Darling Downs more popular than the Whitsundays
AUSSIE tourists made the Darling Downs one of the nation's most popular destinations to visit this year, pouring $1.14 billion into the local economy.
The region edged into the list of Australia's top 20 holiday spots, ahead of the Whitsundays, Hobart, Outback Australia and Darwin, with the number of visitors to the Darling Downs, length of stay and money splurged higher than many traditional tourism meccas.
Almost six million domestic travellers visited the Downs in the 12 months to September this year, spending $163 million dollars more than in the previous 12 months, new data reveals.
Tourism Research Australia's annual national visitor survey showed spending by domestic tourists visiting the region increased almost 17%. Day-trippers boosted tourism spend by a whopping 40%, with 3.68 million people dropping in this year compared to 3.24 million last year. They injected $465 million into the Darling Downs, up from $333 million last year.
A Queensland Department of Tourism spokesman said the region was a stand-out performer nationally.
"Day-trip numbers are up for the Darling Downs and holidaymakers (those who stayed overnight or longer) are down on last year but the overall expenditure of both has increased significantly during the 12 months," he said.
"Holidaymakers tend to spend more money than those on a day trip or quick business visit so the state's coastal regions and Brisbane have also been strong performers."
Once travellers are in Queensland, they stayed longer than most other states and territories, he said.
Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and NSW North Coast were Australia's most visited destinations for domestic travellers during the year, with the Darling Downs at number 15.
Southern Downs councillor Vic Pennisi said he was not surprised the Darling Downs performed above the national average.
"We live in a fantastic place in the world geographically, the climate is appealing to visitors who want to get away from the heat and close to the bush," Cr Pennisi said.
Southern Downs tourism had matured in the past few years with the quality and number of events dramatically improving, he said.
"Tourism bodies and operators have lifted their marketing and the quality of products and services over time has improved. Now we have great events every weekend, world-class festivals, food, wines and sporting facilities," he said.
"For visitors who want eco-tourism, affordable accommodation, a food and wine getaway or to embrace history, the Southern Downs and wider Downs region has all of that to offer."