POPULAR SPOT: Hospitality extends to vintage bicycles at La Costa motel on the Gold Coast, co-owned by Diane Cartmill.
POPULAR SPOT: Hospitality extends to vintage bicycles at La Costa motel on the Gold Coast, co-owned by Diane Cartmill. Picasa

International visitors spend up big on the Gold Coast

WITH an influx of international visitors choosing the Gold Coast as a destination and spending more than ever, accommodation providers are a fortunate section of the economy in the right place at the right time.

Gold Coast Tourism announced in March that international visitor expenditure on the Gold Coast was up 20% in 2015, reaching a new record of $1.23 billion.

Chief executive officer Martin Winter said the continued growth in international visitor expenditure for the Gold Coast was astounding.

"In just three years, international visitor expenditure on the Gold Coast has increased by a massive 47%," he said.

"We've seen visitor growth from priority markets of the UK (+6%), Japan (+3%) and India (+9%); however, it's China that has been the key growth market for the Gold Coast.

"In 2015, there were 242,000 Chinese visitors to the Gold Coast, up by an impressive 20% (or 40,000 visitors) on the previous year.

"Given the successful Chinese New Year we've just had and the announcement of more direct services, coupled with the Chinese investment in tourism infrastructure in the city, we expect this growth to continue well into 2016."

In 2015, the Gold Coast also received more visitors from the USA (+25% to 35,000), India (+9% to 25,000) and South Korea (+22% to 24,000).

"With the 2018 Commonwealth Games around the corner and new international routes opening up, the inbound tourism opportunity for the Gold Coast has never been greater," Mr Winter said.

Gold Coast Airport welcomed more than 600,000 passengers in January, representing its biggest month ever. Six million passengers came through its doors in 2015.

La Costa motel owners John and Diane Cartmill, running a business within walking distance of the airport at Bilinga, are at the centre of the tourist action.

They've invested a good deal of time and money into the motel, which they bought 15 years ago.

Diane said the motel, built in the 1950s, was in need of a makeover.

"Our original plan was as an investment to knock it down and build something modern but the GFC hit and our plans changed," she said.

Diane and John spent two years renovating La Costa Motel, retaining the iconic retro style.

Being close to the airport has distinct advantages.

"As we were new to the motel business, we offered free airport transfers to make it easier for domestic and international guests getting to and from the airport," Diane said.

"For our late arrivals, we offer microwave meals, coffee machines and recently obtained a liquor licence for our mini bars.

"Our guests feel comfortable and customer service is our priority."

It is obvious that the guests enjoy their hospitality.

For the past three years, this 12-room motel has been voted in the Top 25 Hotels in Australia on Tripadvisor for customer service and bargain accommodation.

Last month they were number 49 in the Australian Financial Review's The Sophisticated Traveller Magazine as one of the 70 best places to visit in the world.

"Our guests can get off the plane, get into their togs and be on the beach in 10 minutes," Diane said.

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