A deserted Noosa Beach during the height of last year's lockdowns.
A deserted Noosa Beach during the height of last year's lockdowns.

New report reveals just how hard COVID hit Noosa tourism

Noosa tourism tanked between April and July last year as the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns and border closures hit the region hard, a new Tourism Noosa report reveal.

And despite suffering a smaller downturn in visitor numbers and spending than the Sunshine Coast during the pandemic’s worst economic shockwaves, Noosa’s battered tourism sector would take years to recover, the report said.

The 2019-20 annual Tourism Noosa report tabled in Noosa Council this week said domestic overnight visitors in the June quarter compared with the previous year plunged by 65.4 per cent while the interstate visitors dropped by 97 per cent.

The report also showed the number of day trippers fell by 53.4 per cent.

For the year to June, Noosa played host to almost 2 million domestic visitors who spent a total of about $880 million.

In comparison, Noosa’s 2019 annual tourist earnings broke through the $1 billion barrier for the first time.

Recently retired Tourism Noosa chairman Drew Pearson in his final report said the region “continues to suffer from the effects of the pandemic”.

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“While case numbers have been reduced and restrictions are gradually easing, the economic damage of the pandemic will be felt by our community and local business for years to come,” he said.

“I am amazed, but not surprised by the strength and commitment of the people who make up our industry and I have no doubt we will recover from this current crisis stronger and more successful.”

The Tourism Noosa annual report featuring former chairman Drew Pearson's sobering COVID-19 assessment has just been tabled in Noosa Council.
The Tourism Noosa annual report featuring former chairman Drew Pearson's sobering COVID-19 assessment has just been tabled in Noosa Council.
This graph presented by Noosa Council this week showed the dramatic fall in visitors stays and spend.
This graph presented by Noosa Council this week showed the dramatic fall in visitors stays and spend.

Council chief executive Brett de Chastel said the pre-COVID statistics were “very promising”.

“Record-breaking visitation had occurred in the first three quarters of the 19/20 financial year,” he said.

“The average increase in visitor spend in that period was also very promising,” he said.

Mr de Chastel said the figures were largely driven by the increase in interstate visitors who generally stayed longer.

The report showed the annual downturn in visitors and total spend for the year until June in Noosa was between 11 and 12 per cent, compared to 19 and 15.6 per cent on the Sunshine Coast.

“The impact of the coronavirus on the tourism sector has continued into 20/21,” Mr de Chastel said.

He said Tourism Noosa’s 2020-2023 Destination Noosa Strategy adopted a “back to basics” approach focusing on post-COVID marketing to re-attract high yielding visitors.


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