03 February 2017

"Sofa Tourism" Takes off in Townsville Fuelling Visitor Growth

Domestic visitors to Townsville sleeping on the sofa to enjoy the City's 150th birthday celebrations have fuelled an increase in tourism visitor numbers in the past 12 months.

Townsville's tourism sector has witnessed improvements in domestic visitor numbers because of events such as the V8 Supercars, sports and arts winter events calendar and its 150th-anniversary military air show display.

Despite the authentic outback, islands, aboriginal and war history attractions of the region, a safe and stable geological and geopolitical environment, and still, international guests are not increasing their nightly stays in the same proportion as domestic visitors.

The domestic visitor numbers in Townsville are consistent with improvements in domestic holiday and business growth across Australia, increasing nationally by 9 percent and 11 percent respectively.

Just like the flow of industrial capital, the value-add of the Townsville region over and above domestic interests is limited to existing capacity and capital. More events, better attraction curation and marketing is the aim of the local tourism sector in the coming strategic plan.

Townsville is not a destination location for international and state tourists apart from the backpackers passing through to fruit picking jobs elsewhere and on to the more tourist-iconic locations of Cairns, Airlie Beach or the Gold Coast. "Grey nomads" in their caravans are passing through and being collected in the visitor numbers too.

Families offering friends a night on the sofa to enjoy Townsville's robust annual events is the cornerstone of the City's tourism market driven my sports, arts, music festivals, business and cultural activities.

In spite of the improved tourism visitors, the hotel occupancy rates are less favourable for business operators and property investors. The Austrade Tourism Research Australia June 2016 report identified that only 25% of all domestic trips use hotel accommodation.

The "sofa tourism" dynamic is illustrated when correlated with the accommodation occupancy rate and visitor number charts.

Increased availability of apartment rooms, originally planned for long term renters, has been placed in the short term rental pool due to landlords seeking cash flows and yields. Consequently, a downward trend in accommodation occupancy rates over the past 10 years has been affected.

The supply of holiday accommodation generally has increased, and although visitor numbers have increased too, visitor inflows have not performed at a comparable pace with supply attributing to an unfavourable 62 percent occupancy rate for hotels.

Also, the improved tourism numbers do not correlate to improved occupancy rates because most improvements have occurred in the domestic market including friends and family staying in domestic dwellings. 

The oversupply in the holiday accommodation market is related to the oversupply of long-term rental units in the city and more broadly the oversupply of residential dwellings caused by politically sensitive and dependent residential development moguls.

The excellent attractions of the Townsville and surrounding tourism activities are showcased in the following websites.

Townsville North Queensland Tourism


Tourism Australia

With approximately 1.3 million visitors arriving in Townsville in the 2015-16 year, Townsville receives approximately 6% of the total visitor numbers to Queensland.

More than 22 million domestic and international overnight visitors come to Queensland each year. The industry, directly and indirectly, employs 220,000 Queenslanders. Tourism contributes $11.2 billion directly to the Queensland economy, accounting for 3.7% of Queensland's gross state product (GSP). Indirectly the tourism sector contributes $23 billion to the State's economy. (Queensland Government www.business.qld.gov.au)


Herron Todd White Property Market Update November 2016
National Australia Bank Online Retail Sales Index June 2016
Australian Treasury Small Business Key Statistics and Analysis Report 2012
Tourism Research Australia
Queensland Government - www.business.qld.gov.au
Rapid Realty Australia

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