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Bucking the trend

Friday, 24th July, 2009

Broken Hill's tourism numbers continue to rise despite the downturn in domestic tourism elsewhere across the nation. The city's Visitor Information Centre yesterday claimed another record year, with 203,000 people through the doors for the 2008/09 financial year. The figures represent an eight per cent growth on the record of 189,000 visitors set in 2007/2008.

City Council's Community Development Manager, Fiona Ellis, said the boom seems to have continued through this month, aided by the staggered school holidays in different states.

Until Wednesday, 22,500 people had passed through the centre this month, already surpassing the 20,700 people who visited it in July last year.

The city reaped the benefits of different times for school holidays in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and SA, with Ms Ellis saying there had been "heaps" of families visiting the city over the last five weeks.

Popular attractions included the Railway Museum, Albert Kersten Mining and Mineral Museum (GeoCentre) and national parks.

Ms Ellis said many families were opting to camp out or sleep in caravans and she said many people use a trip to the outback as a chance to bond with family members.

The region's low threat of swine flu was also likely to have played a part, Ms Ellis said.

"I suppose it's harder for a flu virus to live in a dry climate than it is to live in a moist climate.

"If I was trying to avoid swine flu, I'd head outback."

Ms Ellis said the latest tourism figures were encouraging.

"We are delighted that the tourism numbers to Broken Hill continue to grow at such a healthy rate, when in other destinations around Australia domestic tourism is in decline.

"Since 2005 we have seen the number of people attending the Broken Hill Visitor Information Centre grow by an amazing 64,000 people.

"The staff have worked exceptionally hard over the last 12 months to provide great customer service to all these visitors."

The latest research from Tourism NSW indicates that visitors stay an average 3.7 nights in Broken Hill and spend $122 per person per day.

"If we look at the economic contribution of just those people who came to the Visitor Centre, they spent approximately $92 million in Broken Hill, and we know that not every visitor to Broken Hill will come to the Visitor Centre."

While the Tourism Forecasting Council is predicting a decline in domestic tourism again in the 2009/2010 financial year, Ms Ellis is positive the city's tourism numbers will continue to rise.

"We are still forecasting moderate growth in Broken Hill and visitor numbers for July are looking very strong.

"I think that along with our continued advertising of Broken Hill, a lot of people are discovering just what a great city Broken Hill is and are returning home to tell all their friends that it is one of Australia's must see holiday destinations."

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