A spike in the number of visitors from China, New Zealand, the US and India contributed strongly to the overall 12.9 per cent increase in international tourists.
“This is a fantastic result for our New World City and stems largely from strategies initiated to counteract the inevitable slowing of the construction phase of the resources boom,” Brisbane Marketing CEO John Aitken said.
“The economic development plan put in place in 2011 and the comprehensive Brisbane 2022 New World City Action Plan, commissioned by the Lord Mayor as a result of the G20, both recognised and prioritised tourism and major events as key economic drivers for the city.
“These terrific visitation numbers are testimony to that foresight and we are extremely confident the level of growth will continue as we keep building our major events and conventions calendars as well as tourism infrastructure, world-class product offerings and enhanced airline connections.”
Mr Aitken said key goals to help drive the next phase of tourism growth included securing 12 signature drawcard events – such as World Science Festival Brisbane – and doubling the number of conventions delegates.
“This will drive continued record growth in economic impact,” he said. “When you add to our forecasts the global appeal of Queen's Wharf, Howard Smith Wharves and a second runway at Brisbane Airport, the future for tourism in our city is very, very exciting up to and throughout the 2020s.
“The total number of visitors from China for example has already climbed 27.3 per cent to 185,000, closing in on our traditional biggest market of New Zealand which saw a rise of 8.9 per cent to 186,000.”
Mr Aitken said Brisbane City Council and Brisbane Marketing had placed strong emphasis on incentivising tourism infrastructure, including the very successful Hotel Investment Strategy that has seen 2000 rooms opened or currently under construction and a further 1700 rooms in the development pipeline.
“That quality new accommodation product coupled with our ongoing marketing campaigns – including our international leveraging of the G20 Leaders Summit over a sustained two-year period – have significantly increased global awareness of Brisbane and its capacity to accommodate and entertain a growing number of visitors,” Mr Aitken said.
“Campaigns such as Give me Brisbane Any Day, the rapid traffic growth to our premier consumer website and extensive social media marketing are all driving that elevated awareness and conversion for local tourism operators.
“Our destination welcoming and way-finding campaign, Brisbane Welcomes the World, and the Brisbane Greeter programs also position our city as a friendly, welcoming, accessible, sophisticated and quintessentially-Australian destination not to be missed.”
Also boosting the international appeal of Brisbane is ease of global access thanks to improved connectivity and services planned or currently active from Singapore, Japan (Tokyo), China (Guangzhou, Shanghai), Canada (Vancouver), New Zealand (Christchurch), Philippines (Manila), and South Korea (Seoul) for both holiday and business travellers.
“It may come as a surprise to some that Brisbane is indeed Queensland’s top combined leisure and business tourism destination,” Mr Aitken added.
“We have our sights set on increasing market share against Melbourne, Sydney, Singapore and Hong Kong, for example, as we aim to become one the region’s iconic visitor destinations. Business event and conference travel continues to grow for us. In 2014-15, for example, we staged more than 1400 business events resulting in 646,000 delegate days delivering an estimated economic impact of $391 million.
“And education visitation continues to grow after seven years thanks in part to our Study Brisbane program which has become one of Australia's leading city-based international student programs, increasing long-stay visitors and attracting the ever-increasing visiting friends and relatives market.”