Overseas tourists joining grey nomads in Outback

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Would you rather drive or fly to the Western Australian Outback? PIC: Australia's Golden Outback

Grey nomads have long been the kings and queens of regional tourism, exploring Outback areas whether others either haven’t got the time or the inclination to venture.

However, new data from Tourism Research Australia suggests that domestic travellers are getting increasing company in country towns and communities as overseas tourists seek to escape the city lights in favour of the authentic Aussie experience.

For example, in Western Australia, international visitor survey results for the year ending December 2018 shows every tourism region in the state outgrew Perth in both visitor nights and spending.

The West Australian newspaper reveals that the Golden Outback led the way with a mammoth 49% boost in international visitor numbers and 42% boost to visitor spending. The South West (23%) and Coral Coast (13%) also experienced double digit visitation growth and the North West’s visitor spend boomed by about 41% despite a more modest 3% growth in visitation.

By contrast, Perth’s international visitation grew by just 1.3 per cent and spending fell by more than 4%.

In a column for the Weekend West, Tourism Minister Paul Papalia, said Western Australia’s vast distances were no longer seen as an impediment.

“Long drives or expensive airfares presented real barriers to getting tourists out of Perth and into our magnificent regions,” he said. “Visitors and locals can now book early and get affordable flights to Esperance, Albany, Monkey Mia, Carnarvon and Broome, and we are continuing discussions with airlines to expand affordable flights to other regional destinations.

He said that the Road Trip State campaign was also seeking to turn the state’s long distances and low population into a positive attraction, and that a focus on Aboriginal tourism would further boost tourism stocks in regional WA.

Goldfields Tourism Network Association chief executive, Mandy Reidy, said she was pleased with the figures and also the fact that Golden Outback domestic visitor numbers — which make up the lion’s share of Goldfields tourists — had also enjoyed an increase of 6.6%.

“Overseas visitors only make up about 7% of our visitors, but as long as that number’s increasing we’re doing something right,” she said. “People want to see something they haven’t seen before … the Golden Quest Discovery trail is coming up to 15 years and is more popular than ever.”

Ms Reidy also highlighted the environmental, cultural and historical aspects of the region as big drawcards, as well as prospecting and the freedom and adventure of a road trip to the Outback.

  • Have you noticed more overseas visitors in regional Australia? Comment below.
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5 Responses to Overseas tourists joining grey nomads in Outback

  1. Maybe that the Foreign Backpackers are going home and spreading the word that it’s the great place we know it to be.

  2. Not really but I have noticed that there are far more deaths than previously from overseas travellers being unprepared for our unpredictable ocean currents and outback weather conditions. Perhaps when hiring vehicles, catching planes and buses information could be provided on these hazardous conditions in various languages, perhaps even when buying tickets from their home country.

    • I was concern recently when in the Karratha area that there were large numbers of Northern European and Asian tourists, but all warnings and signage was only in English.

  3. Overseas backpackers and 4WD hire customers should be issued with safety instructions in their language and a shovel to bury their poo….!

  4. On our recent trip around we found in a lot of out of the way places they were staffed by overseas people, staying for while earning a bit cash then moving on to their next destination.

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