According to the Albury Wodonga Visitor Economy Trends (AWVET) report, tourism injected a record $1B-plus into the local economy in 2019, with much of that outstanding result fuelled by an impressive rise of more than 15 per cent in the number of international tourists visiting the border cities.
Another highlight of 2019 was an increase of 30.7 per cent in domestic overnight visitors while domestic visitor nights increased by 37 per cent. The AWVET report also reveals domestic day visitors spent an average of $171, representing an increase of almost 12 per cent from 2018.
The figures show it was a remarkable year for the sector, with the entire community benefiting from the big spending boost by our valued visitors.
Unfortunately, the story will not be so bright for 2020. The year started with devastating bushfires and then when COVID-19 struck, we reluctantly had to ask visitors to stay away during the lockdown period.
But local business operators can take some comfort from the underlying strength of the sector, as shown in the 2019 report. Of course, the natural and built attractions that drew so many visitors last year are still in place and with businesses steadily reopening, we can look forward to a much better second half of 2020.
As always, Albury and Wodonga Councils will continue to work together to support all local businesses, with a strong focus on helping tourism operators get back to full strength.
Under our thriving Two Cities One Community (2C1C) partnership, we’re constantly working to further achieve a key goal of nurturing Albury Wodonga as a destination that offers a variety of experiences, attractions and events.
One of the key features of 2C1C is the recognition that Albury and Wodonga are stronger together. The partnership provides a foundation of support during hard times, and importantly, will harness the entire strength of the combined community to make the most of the better times ahead.
During lockdown, our Visit Albury Wodonga team kept busy laying the groundwork for recovery through promoting the region through special blogs and video content while the Economic Development teams from both councils have been working closely with all businesses to help them through the hard times.
Progress on our Murray River Experience projects this year will provide the basis for an important new visitor drawcard while the phased return of some of our popular events will create extra impetus for recovery.
The tourism sector will also benefit from other 2C1C initiatives that are designed to foster economic and social growth. For example, our Smart Communities Strategy, which is now on public exhibition, is creating the framework for the border cities to catch the technology wave that’s changing the way we live and do business, while we’re also working with Wodonga on our Draft Regional Natural Environment Strategy which provides a blueprint for enhancing and protecting our beautiful and unique natural world.
These projects are some of the examples of how we’re working together to make Albury Wodonga an even better place to live, work and invest.
While plenty of challenges lie ahead, we can all take comfort in knowing that the underlying strengths of our community remain intact.
Demonstrated in a sterling year for tourism in 2019, we have what it takes to recover from hardship and to prosper in better times – and we look forward to continuing our work across all sectors of the community to make the most of those better times in the months and years ahead.