The Shoalhaven Visitor Economy is estimated at $853 million* per year and the total nights visitors stay, has hit a record-breaking 5.41 million*, as of the Tourism Research Australia’s December 2018 survey. Whilst the total number of visitors has stayed solid at around 3 million for the last few years, what’s impressive is that they are spending more, staying longer and coming more outside of the summer months.
“Tourism is everybody’s business, from the accountants that have tourism clients, to the builders constructing homes, to the doctors and hospitals, everyone is busier, and our economy grows when visitors are in town.” Shannan Perry-Hall, Shoalhaven Tourism Manager, Acting.
Many local businesses are reporting a growth in off-season business with tourism supporting a year-round economy. Kyle Jones from Outdoor Raw sees a huge amount of visitation year-round for Nowra’s iconic rock climbing. “Every Winter we seem to book more and more life changing adventure experiences. If the trend continues, we may even have more bookings than summer soon. The secret about Shoalhaven winters being the best time to adventure is now common tourist knowledge.” Kyle Jones, Outdoor Raw Rockclimbing
One of the Shoalhaven’s success stories, the award-winning Cupitt Winery, Brewery, Fromagerie and Kitchen are able to employ a huge amount of staff year-round attributed to increased tourism and demand for good food and wine:
“Cupitt's has seen a significant increase in visitation over the last five years, back then in the winter period we would have less than 20 people employed, we now have over 60 in the low season and over 80 in the high season. This has been because of the vitality of the tourism industry we have been able to diversify our business and bring in new revenue streams (cheese and beer). Cupitt's started trading 7 days last year in September (2018) as we felt there was enough demand for this region. It surprises all our visitors locals and tourists to see how busy we are mid-week.” Says Libby Cupitt, Customer Experience Manager, Cupitt’s.
A few years ago there were only a few wine tour operators in the Shoalhaven but now there are around half a dozen. With 11 cellar doors and proximity to gorgeous beaches, the Shoalhaven is becoming a must-do for Sydney-siders who have been-there-done-that in relation to the larger wine regions of NSW and are looking for something new. Kenny Escapes, a tour company that runs hundreds of tours a year to the Shoalhaven has seen this market take off.
“Since starting Kenny Escapes Winery Tours in the Shoalhaven over 12 years ago, I’ve witnessed significant growth in popularity and a much more consistent flow of people enjoying the region in both the summer and winter months. In the past I would have said yes it’s a seasonal business, but definitely not anymore! We’re seeing fewer and less predictable ‘quieter periods’ with recent reports showing June is now rivalling December figures. We have doubled our staff (currently 10) over the past few years and from what we’re experiencing tourists are enjoying weekend getaways at any-time of the year!” Karli Kenny, Kenny’s Escapes Winery Tours.
Several activities have contributed to off-season growth such as Shoalhaven Tourism’s Event Support Program. This year events such as Big Country, SeeChange Festival, South Coast Soul Festival, the South Coast Food and Wine Festival and many others, are attracting thousands of visitors from outside the region during the cooler months to stimulate local economies.
The Shoalhaven Tourism marketing team focusses all campaigns to drive off-season visitation. The award-winning Unspoilt Campaign has been promoting off-season visitation to the South Coast for the last five years. The launch of the Shoalhaven Art and Culture Guide and campaign in April has been driving the cultural tourist to eight cultural trails throughout the region, and annual food and wine campaigns through winter help to drive high-end publicity to cafes, restaurants, wineries and breweries.