UP AND DOWN: International visitors to Bundaberg are up but they are staying fewer nights.
UP AND DOWN: International visitors to Bundaberg are up but they are staying fewer nights. Mike Knott BUN301116AIRPORT20

Why Bundaberg to Sydney flights are on the agenda

MORE international visitors headed to Bundaberg last year compared to the previous 12 months, but they didn't stay for as many nights, nor did they spend as much.

The figures released in the 2016 International Visitor Survey, produced by Tourism Research Australia, showed 41,000 international travellers visited Bundaberg, up from 40,000 last year.

But those international visitors stayed 992,000 nights, down from 1,179,000 the previous year, and their expenditure was down $8 million from $43 million to $35 million.

With the Fraser Coast seeing increases in all three areas, Bundaberg Regional Council tourism spokesman Greg Barnes said they benefited from direct Sydney flights.

The Fraser Coast welcomed 147,000 international visitors, who stayed a total of 788,000 nights and spent $40 million.

But Cr Barnes said the data was great news for both regions.

"While council has a vested interest in ensuring our local visitor market is achieving desired results, we do understand that there is a more holistic approach to tourism from which we all can benefit," he said.

"Fraser Coast certainly profits from the availability of flights direct to and from Sydney and a large portion of its visitor market is driven via this medium.

"In Bundaberg we have an ever-expanding visitor market thanks to our iconic attractions and, as our blossoming passenger throughput at the Bundaberg Airport would suggest, our region is very much on the radar of tourists.

"It is encouraging to see the average level of spend per visitor in the Bundaberg Region which, at $859, is more than three times that of our neighbour."

Despite our southern neighbours seeing significantly more international visitors, on average they spent just $272 per person on the Fraser Coast.

Cr Barnes said he believed the entire Wide Bay was poised to prosper from increased tourism, domestic and international, in the years ahead and that growth would benefit every business operator.

"Across the Bundaberg region we are seeing strong business links being established with Asian countries and more recently delegates from the United Arab Emirates," he said.

Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism general manager Katherine Mergard said the increase in international visitor numbers up to 41,000 also reflected a growing trend for Southern Great Barrier Reef visitors.

"The Bundaberg region works collaboratively with the regional tourism organisations in Capricorn and Gladstone to market the destination internationally under the destination brand of the Southern Great Barrier Reef," she said.

"The SGBR destination enjoyed an increase of 3.9% year on year of total international visitors, taking us to a total of 142,000."

Ms Mergard said the decrease in Bundaberg's visitor nights and length of stay could be attributed to the uncertainty around the backpacker tax decision for international farm workers.