Limestone Coast top regional destination

INTERNATIONAL VISITORS: French tourists Alexis Charles and Elsa Sandri visited Mount Gambier’s Umpherston Sinkhole during a road trip across the Limestone Coast this week. “We are travelling across the South East in our car, we don’t have a journey planned – we are just exploring the region at our own pace,” Ms Sandri told The Border Watch. An international visitor survey revealed the Limestone Coast is the top regional destination in the state for international travellers.

INTERNATIONAL tourism has exploded in South Australia with the Limestone Coast again crowned the top regional destination in the state for international travellers.

An international visitor survey revealed expenditure across the state had blown the billion dollar mark, while the Limestone Coast recorded 46,000 international visits staying 265,000 visitor nights in the year ending March 2017 – a massive boost to the local economy.

Tourism Mount Gambier chair Kent Comley said the figures showed the value of tourism in the Limestone Coast region.

“The Limestone Coast continues to have more international visitors than any other region in South Australia,” Mr Comley said.

“We are consistently one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state and we are experiencing growth in our international market.

“Tourism Mount Gambier is working to further enhance opportunities and grow our visitor economy.”

Chinese tourism is driving growth in South Australia, with a 48pc increase in visits to 50,000 and a total spend of $315million.

With a record 436,000 visits to the state in the year ending March 2017, expenditure increased by 12pc to $1.1 billion, ahead of the national growth rate of 8.1pc.

The United Kingdom is South Australia’s largest market by visitation, followed by the USA, China and New Zealand.

Visitors stayed a total of 10.6 million nights, up 8.8pc and exceeding the national average growth rate of 5.4pc.

Tourism minister Leon Bignell said the results proved South Australia was outperforming the rest of the country.

“The best money we can have in our state is the money out of the pockets, purses and wallets of visitors from overseas – that’s how we grow our economy and create more jobs,” Mr Bignell said.

“The Limestone Coast is the top regional tourist destination in our state and offers stunning natural beauty, national parks, caves and lakes.

“It’s no surprise 46,000 international tourists have visited the region.”

Mr Bignell said China was the largest market by spend, pumping an extra $100m into the visitor economy in the last year.

“Clearly our marketing investment in China and securing the new direct flights to Adelaide by China Southern is paying off,” he said.

“We haven’t put all our eggs in the China basket – we continue to promote South Australia in other key markets.

“A strong tourism sector is imperative for South Australia and we are committed to investing in our state’s economic future as we work towards achieving the target of an $8 billion visitor economy by 2020.”

Meanwhile, the Victoria Tourism Industry Council has expressed concerns about small expenditure by international visitors in regional areas.

The proportion of international visitor spend in regional Victoria remains small with only seven cents from every tourism dollar generated by an international overnight visitor spent in regional Victoria.

In contrast, 92.9pc of total international overnight expenditure in Victoria is spent in Melbourne.

Visit to view the International Visitor Survey Results.