Visitation has increased and tourists are spending more in Wollongong, according to the recent National Visitors Survey.

The survey, for the year ending in December 2017, showed a five per cent increase on last year’s domestic overnight visitors on the South Coast.

“This visitation has come from a range of areas including major events, cruise ships and conferences,” Destination Wollongong director and Wollongong City Councillor Tania Brown said.

STR Global Data said hotel occupancies have also increased.

“Our most recent data suggests that hotel occupancies in Wollongong have risen from an annual average of 68 per cent in 2014 to 81 per cent at the end of 2017 which is a fantastic result given the introduction of the disruptors such as Airbnb,” Destination Wollongong General Manager Mark Sleigh said.

Clr Brown said tourists visiting the region created an economic spin-off resulting in a 14 per cent increase in visitor economic growth.

“Elton John at the WEC was attended by 21,000 and is estimated to have generated over $5 million for the region in hotel, beds, restaurants, cafes and transport

“We have also seen six cruise ships and their 16000 passengers spend over $3 million in our region, which has aided not just tourism businesses but assisted retail and hospitality sectors,” she said.

Mr Sleigh said, most importantly, tourism has a role to play in growing the local economy through job creation.

“There is no business in Wollongong that doesn’t benefit from an increase in visitor numbers

“At the end of the day, tourism is everyone’s business,” he said.

Mr Sleigh said Wollongong needs to develop commercial attractions in areas of high visitation so visitors spend money.

“Walk along the Blue Mile and count the number of places you can spend money. You will be lucky to get double figures,” he said. 

“We need to ensure that any remaining sites are protected and activated commercially to create jobs and boost visitors spending.”

Village Fix Espresso Bar said 80 per cent of its customers were locals who could walk to the business. A spokesperson for the business said a lack of parking restricted its customer-base.

“It’s a big turn off for many people,” spokesperson for Village Fix Espresso Bar said.

Councillor Brown said the council was working to provide more tourism experiences and to boost the opportunities available.