After a difficult year that saw many tourism businesses closing, tourism on the north coast is picking up at last.
Destination NSW statistics show overnight stays for the northern rivers up by 9.3 per cent last year compared to 2010. By comparison, visitors to the mid-north coast dropped by 4.6 per cent.
Russell Mills of Northern Rivers Tourism told local media this morning that proximity was the key to the far north coast’s success.
‘We’re fortunate in that we’re able to be reached within a couple of hours from Brisbane,’ he said.
But he added that the appeal of Byron Bay also had something to do with it.
‘Byron is very important. It’s an iconic destination not only for the region but for NSW and Australia. It does act as a drawcard for the region.’
Byron Bay chamber of commerce (Byron United) claim their Byron Naturally campaign has also helped to supercharge the local tourism market.
According to Destination NSW figures, domestic overnight visitors to Byron itself were up 18 per cent for the year ending September 2011 compared to the 2010 figures and domestic day visitors were up 11 per cent for the same period.
Figures for the year ending June 2011 show how really dire the previous winter period was.
Year ending June 2011 domestic overnight visitors were up 12 per cent, domestic overnight nights were up 39 per cent and domestic day visitors were up 43 per cent compared to the same period the previous year.
‘Byron achieved this incredible result while other tourism regions were suffering and the only significant thing in the Byron market that had changed was the introduction of the Byron Naturally campaign in May 2011,’ said Byron United president Paul Waters.