Efforts to encourage visitors to stay a while when they pass through town appear to be paying off with evidence of increased visitation and longer stays, both locally and region-wide.
Tenterfield Shire Council tourism officer Caitlin Reid said visitation is definitely increasing in Tenterfield. While a goal for this year is to establish a mechanism to collect data on tourism traffic, she said through her discussions with operators of local businesses and accommodation houses it’s apparent that visitation to Tenterfield is strong and increasing.
“Over the last 12 months we’re also seeing the types of visitors change. Rather than the one-night stopovers, we’re seeing an increase in people staying 2-3 nights.
“At least once a day I hear people saying that they’ve always driven through, and this time they’re stopping and taking time to look around which is fantastic, and exactly what we’ve been trying to get happen.”
Council does have statistics on how many people are dropping into the Visitor Information Centre during their stay. The 19,293 people through the door during 2017 reflected a slight increase of 0.5 per cent over the previous year, but a substantial 11.6 per cent increase since 2014.
“I think is consistent with the trends we’re seeing,” Ms Reid said.
“More and more people are finding out about Tenterfield and spending more time here, and we’re seeing more development, new shops etc.”
Ms Reid said volunteers at the VIC record the length of stay when it comes up in conversation, and it averages out at 2-3 nights.
“I’d say this data was only captured for about a quarter of visitors, but was over 15,800 visitor nights. It’s hard to know how much money they leave behind, but they’re definitely spending.”
These trends align with the Tenterfield True marketing campaign, although this was only launched towards the end of last year. Ms Reid feels its a collective approach by council and the community that’s resulting in an influx in visitors, with Tenterfield becoming a must-visit destination.
“It’s everything that sits behind Tenterfield True that is working: the collaboration between the businesses, events (new and old), new businesses and redevelopments, the Tenterfield Chamber and the success we’re seeing through social platforms like Facebook and Instagram,” she said.
“Tenterfield True binds it all together and is the platform we’ll be working on well into the future.”
Strong tourism growth is also reflected in the just-released National Visitor Survey (NVS) which shows more Australians are flocking to holiday in New England, and that they’re staying longer and spending more.
While the statistics don’t drill down to individual local government areas, the NVS shows 1.59 million Australian tourists visited the New England North West region in the year to September 2017 which represents an 11 per cent increase in 12 months and 23 per cent rise over three years.
They stayed a total of 4.2 million nights for an average of three nights and pumped $565 million into the local economy through tourism spending.
Deputy Prime Minister and Member for New England Barnaby Joyce welcomed the tourism boom, saying it’s great news for local businesses.
“More travellers coming to the New England region means a boost for our local economy and more local jobs are created and supported,” he said.
The release of the International Visitor Survey (IVS) indicates foreign visitor numbers have also surged and they’re also spending more.
Figures show 43,000 international tourists visited the New England North West representing a 32 per cent increase in 12 months and spent $65 million in 12 months. Meanwhile their average spend is up 38 per cent to $1497 per person.”
Mr Joyce said locals in the New England North West should be proud.
“Our region is drawing tourists in droves with its landmark attractions and great tourism operators,” he said.