Profiling and analysing the impact of tourism on Coffs Harbour's economy


Case Studies

The Client

Coffs Habour City Council


To profile the local tourism and hospitality sector to identify market importance and key trends impacting its growth.


Macro trends and the area’s existing tourism offer has impacted on the recent growth of the sector.


Coffs Harbour has the ability to boost its tourism market by developing new accommodation types and leveraging its hinterland to grow the tourism offer.

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Tourism represented 13.6% of employment and 11.8% of value added in Coffs Harbour in 2014/15, double the NSW average. In this case study, we profile the local tourism and hospitality sector to identify market importance and key trends impacting Coffs Harbour’s growth.

Business Challenge

Coffs Harbour City Council was interested in exploring the importance of tourism and hospitality to the local economy and what trends were evident in the flow and characteristics of the different visitor markets.

The .id Solution

.id prepared a detailed report that profiled:

  • The value of the tourism to the local economy and changes in its contribution over time.
  • Trends and characteristics of the domestic daytrip and overnight visitor market.
  • Trends and characteristics of the international visitor market.
  • Estimated economic impacts of major tourism events.

Our analysis utilised economic modellling by National Economics (NIEIR) to explore the output, value add and employment generated by the sector. We also drew on detailed Tourism Research Australia data to analyse key questions such as: who is coming to the region? where from?, and what for?

Benchmarking was a crucial component of the report to illustrate how Coffs Harbour has performed in comparison to nearby competitor visitation markets on the north coast and broader state-wide trends.


The tourism profile found that Coffs Harbour has experienced an increase in daytrips over the last decade. Its role as a regional service centre has become more pronounced with an increased share of day trippers coming for shopping, health and business related activities rather than holidaying.

The area experienced a decline in domestic overnight visitation in the latter half of the 2000s, driven mainly be a reduction in trips from Greater Sydney residents. This was influenced by a higher Australian dollar and cheaper international flights that led many Sydney residents to travel abroad rather than within the state. This situation has reversed somewhat in recent years but Coffs Harbour hasn’t rebounded as much as some other locations on the north coast.

One possible reason for this identified by our analysis was that there is a slight mismatch between activities offered by the Coffs Harbour region and what Sydney travelers are becoming more interested in (reflected by growth in specific activities engaged in while on holiday). Our analysis also identified that while the area has an existing abundance of large budget accommodation facilities, most of the existing stock is somewhat dated when compared to other locations on the north coast. Recent accommodation building approvals have been very low.

Through our discussion with the council it became clear that the current joint tourism strategy being pursued between Coffs Harbour and the neighboring Shire of Bellingen could be a strong avenue to help address the activity mismatch. Coffs Harbour has the key transport infrastructure and coastal assets that Bellingen lacks, and Bellingen provides additional opportunities for visitors to pursue arts and cultural event based activities beyond what Coffs Harbour offers. The council could also investigate mechanisms to support the development of new luxury accommodation facilities that make the most of the coastal location, addressing the current market shortfall.

Further Information

Check out articles from our Economics team here, or feel free to book a meeting if you would like to learn more about how we can help you build the evidence base.

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