Page 1720 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 13 May 2015

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two per cent, and in 2013-14 there was zero per cent growth in international visitor nights spent in the ACT. The ACT had the third lowest international visitor expenditure, at five per cent, and the second lowest in actual spend, at $373 million.

The picture with domestic visitors was no better. Tourism Research Australia domestic visitor quarterly results noted that the ACT had the second lowest number of national visitors, at 1.9 million people, ahead only of the Northern Territory, at 1.07 million people. However, whereas the Northern Territory had a smaller number of domestic visitors, the year-on-year visitor numbers grew by 20 per cent, the largest in the country, unlike the ACT, which saw a five per cent decrease in domestic visitor numbers. We are the only jurisdiction that had negative growth between 2013 and 2014. The ACT also had the lowest number of domestic visitor nights. In 2014 we were overtaken by the Northern Territory.

The theme of being overtaken by the Northern Territory continues. We were last in 2014 domestic visitor expenditure, having been overtaken by the Northern Territory. Also, from 2013 to 2014 domestic expenditure slipped by a whopping 13 per cent, the largest drop in the country. You have to question what is behind this. If you look at Tourism Research Australia’s Visitor perceptions of the ACT, a document from August last year, it identified the following: impressions of Canberra by repeat leisure visitors—the sprawling layout can result in an empty feeling and it was a “been there, done that” destination.

For those who have never visited Canberra before, here is what they had to say: it had a reputation for expensive travel, which deters spontaneous leisure trips and it lacks excitement. There were perceptions of limited activity. In the arts and culture, it was ranked second to last when compared with Melbourne, Hobart, Sydney and Adelaide. There was a big gap between those who had visited the ACT and those who had not. It shows the low awareness of what Canberra has to offer by way of arts and culture.

In food and wine, we were ranked last when compared with Tasmania, Melbourne, Adelaide and even the Orange-Mudgee region. Tourism Research Australia found that Canberra’s food and wine offerings were not considered unique or compelling enough to drive visitation, that some recent visitors felt that local knowledge was required to find the best venues and these were often located in the suburbs.

There is a continued perception that Canberra lacks vibrancy, energy and night life and that the Canberra wine region lacks a brand with impact. I do not necessarily agree with these perceptions. Indeed, they are perceptions, as the report points out. But if that is the perception then there is much work to be done.

Family fun was ranked last when compared to the Gold Coast, tropical northern Queensland, Sydney and Melbourne. General awareness of Canberra’s family experience was low for those who have not visited. Canberra was rated higher for family experience by those who had visited before, leading to the conclusion that if people knew more about what is on offer they may feel more likely to visit.

In the category of outdoor and adventure, when compared overall with tropical Far North Queensland, Tasmania, the Great Ocean Road and Sydney, Canberra was not

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