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Kimberley tourism hits record highs

September 10, 2019

Tourists take a photo in the Kimberley

Photo: Tourist attractions such as Cockburn Ranges and Gibb River Road have been a major drawcard for the region

Tourism is one of the major industries the Kimberley. The region’s unique environmental assets provide a strong basis for a sustainable tourism industry and investment opportunities, with the tourism sector being responsible for an estimated 12% employment (1,833) and nearly 10% ($516 million) of all gross revenue generated by businesses in the region. In fact, a recent report produced by the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) ‘Regional Growth Prospects’ recognised the North West of Australia as a ‘specialised tourism region’ with one of the highest visitor spend per capita in the country (average annual visitor spend $14,455 per person), ahead of regions such as Tropical North Queensland (average annual visitor spend $12,940 per person) and the Snowy Mountains (average annual visitor spend $13,770 per person).

The release of recent tourism figures for Local Government Areas (LGA) by Tourism Research Australia (TRA) is a good opportunity to gauge the performance for the Kimberley for the past decade (2008 to 2018^). Our analysis for the past ten years shows that:

  • Visitor numbers reached an average record high of 593,000 in 2017. Visitation rates grew at approximately 2 per cent per annum, led by the Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley (4 per cent), Derby-West Kimberley (3.2 per cent), and Broome (1.3 per cent). Halls Creek showed negative growth (2.7 per cent).  Toggling on and off on the time series lines in the charts below will reveal individual trends for each LGA in detail.
  • The number of nights spent in the region has remained relatively stable at 6 nights or less than a full week.
  • How much, on average, did the visitors to the Kimberley spend per night? Our analysis shows that the amount spent per night in the Kimberley currently sits at $163 and increased at an average of 0.6 per cent per annum.

These recent tourism figures are indicative that concerted efforts directed at the tourism industry in the region over the past decade are starting to pay dividends. From international flights to Singapore to the extension of a discount fare trial Perth-Broome starting from $179 one way, and the announcement of direct flights Kununurra-Melbourne to commence in May 2020, the prospects for the tourism sector in the Kimberley could not be more positive. Not only does the region continue to host a number of festivals such as Shinju Matsuri and Ord Valley Muster, but it also continues to feature in a number of TV shows, Social Media, and iconic productions.

For further information, please contact the Kimberley Development Commission on (08) 9148 4100 or alternatively visit the Tourism Research Australia website.

^ Tourism Research Australia and Tourism Western Australia figures may differ. Tourism Research Australia (TRA) calculated the figures for each year based on rolling (moving) averages. For example, 2008 figures are based on the average from 2005 to 2008 and so on. Tourism Western Australia also uses rolling averages. Due to changes to the National and International Survey Methodology, visitation estimates for 2014 and on wards may not be directly comparable with previous estimates.

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