THE Shoalhaven's key tourism industry continues to rise and new figures show significant off-season growth.
The Shoalhaven is well known as a beach and summer destination but over recent years, visitors are coming more in the off-season.
There has been a 30 per cent increase in visitation from April to October over the last three years.
The traditionally slower winter and shoulder seasons now make up around 70 per cent of the total annual visitors to the Shoalhaven, which helps provide year-round jobs and income for local businesses.
The Shoalhaven visitor economy is estimated at $853 million per year and the total nights' visitors stay, has hit a record-breaking 5.41 million, as shown the Tourism Research Australia's December 2018 survey.
Figures confirm people are spending more, staying longer and coming more outside of the summer months.
Acting Shoalhaven Tourism Manager Shannan Perry-Hall said many sections of the economy benefit from tourism.
"Tourism is everybody's business, from the accountants that have tourism clients, to the builders constructing homes, to the doctors and hospitals, everyone is busier, and our economy grows when visitors are in town," the action Shoalhaven Tourism Manager said.
Many local businesses are reporting a growth in off-season business with tourism supporting a year-round economy.
Kyle Jones from Outdoor Raw saw a huge amount of visitation year-round for Nowra's rock climbing industry.
"Every winter we seem to book more and more life-changing adventure experiences," he said.
"If the trend continues, we may even have more bookings than summer soon.
"The secret about Shoalhaven winters being the best time to adventure is now common tourist knowledge."
One of the Shoalhaven's success stories, the award-winning Cuppit's Winery, Brewery, Fromagerie and Kitchen are able to employ a huge amount of staff year-round attributed to increased tourism and demand for good food and wine:
"Cupitt's has seen a significant increase in visitation over the last five years," Libby Cupitt Cuppit's Winery Customer Experience Manager said.
"Back then in the winter period we would have less than 20 people employed, we now have over 60 in the low season and over 80 in the high season.
"This has been because of the vitality of the tourism industry we have been able to diversify our business and bring in new revenue streams.
"Cupitt's started trading seven days last year in September as we felt there was enough demand for this region.
"It surprises all our visitors locals and tourists to see how busy we are mid-week."
A few years ago there were only a few wine tour operators in the Shoalhaven but now there are around half a dozen.
With 11 cellar doors and proximity to gorgeous beaches, the Shoalhaven is becoming a must-do for Sydney-siders who are looking for something new.
Kenny Escapes Winery Tours, a tour company that runs hundreds of tours a year to the Shoalhaven, has seen this market take off.
"Since starting Kenny Escapes in the Shoalhaven over 12 years ago, I've witnessed significant growth in popularity and a much more consistent flow of people enjoying the region in both the summer and winter months," Karli Kenny from Kenny's Escapes Winery Tours said.
"In the past, I would have said yes it's a seasonal business, but definitely not anymore.
"We're seeing fewer and less predictable 'quieter periods' with recent reports showing June is now rivalling December figures.
"We have doubled our staff to 10 over the past few years and from what we're experiencing tourists are enjoying weekend getaways at any-time of the year."
Several activities have contributed to off-season growth such as Shoalhaven Tourism's Event Support Program.
This year events such as Big Country, SeeChange Festival, South Coast Soul Festival, the South Coast Food and Wine Festival and many others, are attracting thousands of visitors from outside the region during the cooler months to stimulate local economies.
The Shoalhaven Tourism marketing team focuses all campaigns to drive off-season visitation.
The award-winning Unspoilt Campaign has been promoting off-season visitation to the South Coast for the last five years.
The launch of the Shoalhaven Art and Culture Guide and campaign in April have been driving the cultural tourist to eight cultural trails throughout the region, and annual food and wine campaigns through winter help to drive high-end publicity to cafes, restaurants, wineries and breweries.