THE START of the summer school holidays has been good for the Whitsundays, with strong figures for both tourism operators and the Whitsunday Coast Airport, which recorded its best ever day in December.
The airport was a hive of activity over the Christmas-New Year holiday period, with more than 48,500 passengers transiting through the terminal during December.
Whitsunday Regional Council director commercial business Craig Turner said the terminal had its busiest day in history, on December 28, when 2,558 passengers transited through the terminal.
“These record daily numbers are testament to the growing appeal of our Whitsunday region and the tireless efforts of the entire Whitsunday Coast Airport team,” Mr Turner said.
“Importantly, increasing passenger numbers translates into revenue for the airport operations and our business stakeholders trading at the airport.
“The record day of passenger numbers highlights not only the increased connectivity for our residents but also the influx of visitors eager to experience the magic of the Whitsundays.
“The hard work, dedication, and commitment of the airport staff have played a pivotal role in creating an environment where travellers feel welcomed, and the travel experience is seamless.
“These record numbers also underscore the resilience and appeal of our region as a premier destination, as the Heart of the Great Barrier Reef.”
Strong passenger numbers at the airport translate into high visitation for the region’s tourism operators and accommodation providers.
Occupancy figures for the Christmas and New Year period have been above 95 per cent, according to lead marketing agency Tourism Whitsundays.
As it moves into the general school holiday period, when people tend to go back to work, accommodation occupancy averages 70 per cent.
Tourism Whitsundays CEO Rick Hamilton said the holiday period had delivered more impressive results for the Whitsundays.
“The Whitsundays has truly shone this festive season!” he said.
“With over 90 per cent occupancy over Christmas and a steady 70 per cent for the beginning of January school holidays, it is a testament to the enduring allure of our stunning region.
“We’re thrilled to see so many families and travellers choosing to create lasting memories here.
“Delivering the wonderful holiday memories to all our visitors in this period has been the operators and businesses, who worked hard over the holiday period.
Bowen Tourism and Business also recorded strong results, with the team welcoming 4,152 visitors in December 2023 – an increase of more than 25 per cent on the same month last year.
Of those, 361 people were international visitors, with the majority coming from Europe and the UK.
“The year ended with record numbers at the Bowen Visitor Information Centre and we have certainly continued to be busy welcoming thousands of visitors since the new year started,” manager Leanne Abernethy said.
“We have started the year by averaging more than 300 visitors a day. That is a big increase on the beginning of last year, so we are very pleased to report that, at this stage, the numbers continue to grow.”