Tourism Noosa is in the bad books this week, after reports its fudged its visitor statistics to outshine rivals.
According to news.com.au, the tourism body was desperate to beat other holiday destinations in Queensland, and so pumped up the iconic town’s domestic and international visitor numbers, but it hasn’t gotten away with it.
Industry leaders have called for transparency amid revelations, with Tourism Noosa recently publicising visitor growth beyond most other regions, including the Gold Coast and the rest of the Sunshine Coast.
But tourism chiefs aren’t buying it, saying Noosa has been including areas outside its boundaries.
Per news.com.au, a Tourism Research Australia (TRA) review found the town was adding visitor data from tourism hotspots in the neighbouring Sunshine Coast Council.
When questioned last week, a Tourism Noosa spokesperson admitted to including Coolum and Eumundi figures, claiming those areas were previously under its umbrella, but said it ended the practice in March. Awkward!
The discovery has now put the destination on the spot, suggesting that while Noosa has been touting its own horn, it might have been beefing up numbers to claim the title as the state’s leading growth market.
Claims that international spending in the town soared to $142.3 million in the year to March – more than doubling from $69.4 million in 2013 – are now being rubbished as unreliable and unrealistic.
The latest international figures reveal a 10% drop in visitors to Noosa, quite the opposite of its own reports, offset by a 50% rise in tourists to Noosaville in 2014-15, equating to a 18.8% overall increase.
Frustrated tourism chiefs called on Noosa to come clean and work with other regions rather than make negative comparisons.
Sunshine Coast Destination boss Simon Ambrose said he was concerned his northern neighbour’s assertions were misleading, according to news.com.au.
“We are also concerned, when they make negative comments about the rest of the Sunshine Coast, because we should all be in this together,” Ambrose said.
“We are doing a great job with our partners in Gympie and the Fraser Coast promoting the whole region.”
A Tourism Noosa spokesperson said the body was “reporting on facts and data that is accessed directly from the TRA database via an economic consultant, EMDA, and growth data is consistent with figures provided directly by TRA.”