Canberra is cementing its place on Australia’s tourist map with 2.5 million domestic visitors to the nation’s capital in the past year injecting a record $1.572 billion into the ACT’s economy.
The boost in visitor spending represents a 16.3 per cent increase on the previous year and sets a new Territory record.
Visitor numbers for the year ending March 2017 have also seen a three per cent increase over the previous year to 2,501,000 according to new figures from the Tourism Research Australia’s National Visitor Survey released today.
A big contributor to the record figures has been a strong boost in the number of Canberra visitors deciding to stay overnight.
“The growth was driven by very strong performance in the Holiday sector, with a massive 50.2 per cent increase in people in this sector staying overnight,” Chief Minister Andrew Barr said today.
“There were 1,981,000 overnight visitors in the year ending March 2017, compared to 1,319,000 for the year ending March 2016,” he said.
The National Visitor Survey figures show that the ACT saw the second biggest percentage increase in Australian visitor expenditure for states/territories after Tasmania, where spending increased by 30 per cent.
Mr Barr said that interstate visitors coming to Canberra for holidays were mainly coming from the key markets of Sydney (up 21.1 per cent), regional NSW (up 46.4 per cent) and Melbourne (up 73 per cent).
“Growth from the Melbourne market is particularly pleasing given recent cooperative marketing undertaken since Tigerair commenced direct daily flights to the capital in December 2016.”
Mr Barr said that the increase in domestic tourism to Canberra reflects the ACT Government’s concerted marketing efforts to attract more visitors.
“Through VisitCanberra’s ongoing marketing activities and event funding programs using its One Good Thing After Another campaign, the attraction of Canberra as a diverse and exciting short break destination is definitely getting out across the country,” he said.
Launched in February last year, the One Good Thing After Another campaign pitches the benefits of a weekend in Canberra as an opportunity to “see and experience more in less time”. It includes a series of videos giving potential visitors a taste of what a weekend in Canberra can be like.
“Canberra attracts a large number of visitors from around the country to our national attractions, including the Australian War Memorial, Parliament House, the National Gallery and the National Museum,” Mr Barr said.
“The government helps these attractions bring in more visitors by supporting major exhibitions like A History of the World in 100 Objects and Versailles: Treasures from the Palace.
“The figures show that visitors to Canberra are also staying overnight and spending much more than ever before – this no doubt is in part due to our city’s growing reputation for high quality restaurants, cafes, bars and clubs.”
Mr Barr said the figures are complemented by recent growth in international tourism to Canberra. This includes a seven per cent increase in international visitors and a 28 per cent rise in expenditure in the year ending March 2017 when compared to the previous year.
“International tourism figures continue to be boosted by the direct international flight service provided by Singapore Airlines,” he said.
Mr Barr said that the ACT Government will continue working towards the goal of growing the ACT’s overnight visitor expenditure to $2.5 billion by 2020.
Top photo: Colourful architectural projections on the Questacon building during the 10-day Enlighten festival in March this year. The annual festival of projections, entertainment, art, music and food draws thousands of visitors to Canberra. Photo by Glynis Quinlan
Do you think Canberra is becoming more popular with interstate visitors? What attractions do you think have the most appeal? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.