Visitor numbers to the North Coast continue to climb.
Visitor numbers to the North Coast continue to climb.

How much is that tourist worth?

THEY love us ... they really, really love us.

According to the latest tourism figures, visitors are flocking to the North Coast in increasing numbers.

International Visitor Survey results more than 5.5 million domestic and 354,000 international visitors came to the region in the 12 months to September last year, an increase of 7 per cent and 3 per cent respectively from the same period in the previous year.

But how important are they to the our towns? What do the tourists bring with them (other than road congestion and grumbling locals)?

How does $3.7billion sound? That's a lot of money.

The bulk of that money comes from domestic tourism - travellers coming to spend a few days in our region, spending on average $210 a night on accommodation, and a further $166 on other items.

International visitors tend to stay longer, but are staying in much cheaper accommodation and spending much less - they spend $77 a night on accommodation and $66 on other items, but stay three times longer than domestic visitors.

Page MP Kevin Hogan said the survey figures show the North Coast to be: "The most popular destination for both domestic and international tourists in NSW outside of Sydney and one of the most popular regional destinations in the country".

"This is a testament to our local tourism operators and means more people in local restaurants, staying in local hotels and visiting local tourist attractions.

"Every dollar spent in our local businesses helps to maintain and create local jobs, and strengthens our local economy."

Nationally, visitor numbers were up 6 per cent to 8.4 million, injecting $43.2 billion into the economy.

The International Visitor Survey (IVS) samples 40,000 departing, short-term international travellers aged 15 years and over who have been visiting Australia. The survey is conducted by Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) in the departure lounges of the eight major international airports: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, Perth, Adelaide, Darwin and the Gold Coast.

The latest International Visitor Survey results are available at: www.tra.gov.au.