More Australians chose to visit the ACT in the year to March but fewer holidayed in Canberra and overall they spent less than the previous year, according to the latest figures.
The National Visitor Survey results for the year ending March 2018 released by Tourism Research Australia, show the ACT welcomed 2.69 million domestic visitors in the past year, a growth of 7.6 per cent on the previous year. The figures also showed a big increase in the number arriving by plane, reflecting the impact of low-cost carrier Tigerair on the market.
While the ACT Government welcomed the figures, it must be disappointed with the fact that the number of people choosing Canberra as a holiday destination was down.
Visitor nights totalled 7.1 million, up 11.5 per cent or 6.4 million on the previous year, but spending fell 4.3 per cent from $1.572 billion to $1.504 billion.
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The survey shows fewer people holidayed in the ACT during the year ending March 2018 than in the previous year, with 748,000 taking a break in Canberra compared with 805,000 last year.
But there was a big increase in those visiting friends and family – 965,000 from 755,000, with business travel also up, from 771,000 to 837,000.
The number of people who visited the national capital for the day increased by 7.2 per cent on the 2017 figures, with nearly two million coming to Canberra for the day compared with 1.8 million in 2017. The spend was also up, by 24.2 per cent from $259 million to $322 million.
The survey shows fewer people holidayed in the ACT during the March quarter than in the same period last year – 135,000 compared with 223,000 in 2018, plunging 39 per cent. The number of visitors seeing friends and family was slightly more – 206,000 compared with 200,000, up 3 per cent.
Business travel to the ACT also was up in the 2018 March quarter with 197,000 visiting Canberra compared with 169,000 in the same period last year, an increase of 16 per cent.
Overall domestic visitation to the ACT during the 2018 March quarter fell nearly 10 per cent, from 635,000 in 2017 to 574,000 this year.
Most people drove themselves to Canberra for their stay with 1.8 million taking to the road, slightly up on the previous period (1.75 million) but 745,000 arrived by plane, more than 100,000 more than 2017 figure of 625,000, while 171,000 used other transport such as the bus or train.
The ACT Government focused on the overall visitor numbers, saying in a statement the results confirmed Australians’ continued interest in exploring the city that global publisher Lonely Planet named as the world’s third best city to visit in 2018.
The Government said it had worked hard to make it easier to travel to the capital, welcoming low-cost carrier Tigerair with services to Melbourne and Brisbane.
“The Government is also continuing discussions with other aviation carriers such as Jetstar, as well as the NSW Government on improvements to the train service between Canberra and Sydney,” it said.
The Government said it was continuing to work towards its goal of growing the ACT’s overnight visitor expenditure to $2.5 billion by 2020, with current combined domestic and international overnight expenditure tracking at $2.13 billion.