Overnight visitor nights to the Gold Coast exceeded five million in a year for the first time but the average visitor spend was down. The number of day trips also fell, largely due to the River Rapids accident at Dreamworld last October in which four people died.

Gold Coast Tourism CEO Martin Winter said National Visitor Survey figures released yesterday showed a 7.2% increase in overnight domestic visitors to a record 3.95 million for the year to June 30. International overnight stays also rose 7.2% to a record 1.056 million visitors.

“For the first time, the Gold Coast welcomed more than 5 million overnight visitors,” Mr Winter said.

“It is terrific to see the popularity of the Gold Coast continue to grow. Adding the day-tripper figures to overnight visitors, the Gold Coast welcomed 12.91 million people over the year.”

He added that day-trippers are down 8.8% per cent for the year.

“That’s not unexpected when we see the challenges the theme parks have endured over recent months as one of the major drivers of that market.

“We also see a trend of overall visitor spend not growing as fast as the increase in visitor numbers.

“So that means more people are enjoying the Gold Coast but each one is spending slightly less on average.

“Interestingly, the full year figures show total number of domestic nights stayed are up 11.9% and the average length of stay is up as well.  That would indicate there is a lot of discounting going on in the market.

“Our 7.2 per cent growth rate in visitor numbers is stronger than both the Australian (5.2%) and Queensland (6.2%) figure but there is a lag in expenditure growth. The Gold Coast’s total visitor spend grew 4.1 per cent to $3.1 billion whereas the Australian (6.6%) and Queensland (5.5%) expenditure growth was slightly higher.

“We will continue to promote Destination Gold Coast to Australia and the world, and encourage visitors to explore further, stay longer and spend more,” Mr Winter said.

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