The NSW South Coast is ranked as one of the top 10 most popular holiday destinations for Australian travellers, the latest national tourism snapshot has revealed.
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More than 3.8 million Aussie tourists visited the South Coast in the 12 months to June this year, an increase of more than one million visitors from the 12 months prior, according to the federal government’s National Visitors Survey (NVS).
The NVS showed more visitors hit the the South Coast than the Sunshine Coast, Blue Mountains, Adelaide and Whitsundays.
The South Coast includes the Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama, Shoalhaven, Wingecarribee, Wollondilly, Eurobodalla and Bega Valley local government areas, as well as Jervis Bay.
The data revealed visitors stayed more than 12 million nights on the South Coast from June 2017 to 2018, and spent more than $1.7 billion dollars in the region.
The number of day trip visitors increased by 8.7 per cent from the previous year, pushing the South Coast into the eighth ranked position, with more than 6.7 million visitors in the past 12 months to June.
Despite the increase, domestic visitors were spending less cash in the region than in previous years.
In 2017, overnight visitors spent an average of $475 during their trips, this number fell to $458 in 2018.
Same went for day trippers, spending fell $9 from June 2017 to 2018, with visitors spending an average of $92 during the day.
Shoalhaven Councillor Bob Proudfoot said greater investment in “upmarket accommodation” was needed to increase tourist spending in the region.
“Once tourists stay for three days or more we know their spending starts to escalate,” he said.
“We need to provide more upmarket accommodation to attract those high spenders to the region.”
While Cr Proudfoot was pleased South Coast visitor numbers were continuing to climb, “a lot more” needed to be down when it came to key tourism infrastructure in the Shoalhaven.
“We need an upgrade to the Princes Highway, we need three lanes each way through Nowra to Central Avenue. That’s an absolute must,” he said.
“We need the highway upgraded all the way to Batemans Bay not just to make it safer for the tourists but for all the locals too.”
As tourism numbers grow and holiday periods become longer, Cr Proudfoot said more amenities like carparks and toilet blocks were needed right across the Shoalhaven to cope with tourist demand.
“We are so affected by overcrowding and lack of resources at peak times,” he said.
“We need $50 million to attend to local infrastructure. At the moment we have some negative impacts, and we only want positive impacts because tourism is a driving factor of the Shoalhaven economy.”
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