A new report on Albury Wodonga’s visitor economy has illustrated the underlying strength of the border’s tourism industry, as the sector moves to recover from the impact of COVID-19.
The Albury Wodonga Visitor Economy Trends (AWVET) report shows tourism injected more than $1 billion into the Albury Wodonga economy during 2019 – an increase of 23.92 per cent.
Although the sector was hit hard by the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, tourism leaders say the sector’s growth prior to the virus emergency indicates the region is well-placed to recover as restrictions continue to ease.
AlburyCity Mayor Kevin Mack said the border cities looked forward to welcoming the return of visitors to help local businesses rebuild.
“While the events of this year have obviously taken a heavy toll on tourism activity in 2020, our natural attractions and other leading tourism offers are still in place and there’s plenty of room for optimism that we’ll continue to draw visitors as the situation returns to a ‘new normal’,” he said.
“The opening of a limited ski season in the alps is one example of that recovery process and we urge our valued visitors to safely return and enjoy everything we have to offer.”
Wodonga councillor John Watson said the increase in economic return from tourism was a testament to the strength of the industry and was attributed to a significant increase in overnight visitation.
“We know this has been an incredibly tough year for our tourism industry, including our retail and hospitality businesses, that have had to deal with the effects of bushfires and smoke, and then the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cr Watson said.
“But this shows our tourism industry, with the right conditions, can absolutely thrive and drive significant investment into our economy, from which everyone benefits, and I know we look forward to continuing to work with our partners on the development of the sector as we recover from a challenging year.
“We encourage everyone to holiday in their own backyard and invite your family and friends for a visit to support our local businesses and showcase to our fantastic region.”
Other highlights of the 2019 report include the following.
- increase of 30.70 per cent in domestic overnight visitors during the past year, representing 830,000 visitor trips
- The number of international visitors rose by 15.74 per cent, representing 26,580 international travellers visiting Albury-Wodonga
- An average expenditure of $171 by domestic day visitors, representing an increase of 11.76 per cent from 2018, and
- More than 289,500 people attended council conducted, sponsored or facilitated events during 2019, an increase of 12.68 per cent from 2018, generating an estimated $53 million.
Both mayors say that while the figures point to encouraging signs for recovery, a tough road still lies ahead for many operators. Both councils will continue to support the sector as it works towards welcoming back its valued visitors.