THE most recent figures released by Tourism Research Australia show that the Snowy Mountains region has experienced little long-term growth - and is losing market share.
It has prompted a warning from local tourism executives that there is no room for complacency and the next six months could be a crucial period for the region.
The latest figures show the Snowy Mountains received just over 1,2 million total visitors in the period October 2011 to September 2012.
Total visitor expenditure was estimated to have reached $494 million. On average, each visitor spent about $400. This represents about $14,000 for every man, woman and child living in the Snowy Mountains.
Over the 12 months period, 677,000 domestic overnight visitors stayed in the region. This was down by 7.9 per cent on year ending September 2011. Visitors spent over 2.5 million nights in the region - but this was also down by 16.6 per cent.
By comparison, the number of domestic overnight trips to regional New South Wales increased by 1.5 percent on the previous year. In terms of market share, the Snowy Mountains region received 3.9 per cent of domestic visitors and 4.1 per cent of nights in regional NSW.
It is estimated that Snowy Mountains received 16,800 international overnight visitors in the year - down by 1.9 per cent. This was only 2.9 per centof international visitors to regional NSW. Snowy Mountains also welcomed 540,000 domestic daytrip visitors over the year - up slightly by 1.1 per cent.
CEO of Tourism Snowy Mountains, Peter Sheppard, said the release of these latest tourism figures is a timely wake-up call for the region.
"The visitor economy is vital to the sustainability of our community with direct visitor spending representing 17 per cent of the total economic output of the region," he said.
"We cannot afford to be complacent. Snowy Mountains has had little long-term growth over the last 13 years and these latest figures show we are losing market share. Tourism benefits virtually every business and we need to work together if we are to grow the region's economy.
"We need to increase our brand profile with cohesive, targeted marketing. The region has enormous potential as a year-round holiday destination and the regional tourism organisation has created an innovative marketing plan with key strategic opportunities. However, local participation is vital for the success of the program."
Chairman of Tourism Snowy Mountains, David Sheldon, said the regional tourism organisation's Board would focus on continuing the implementation of the 2011 Gibbs Report on sustaining tourism for the region.
"The next six months will be a watershed period for tourism in Snowy Mountains. In particular, the development of a comprehensive Destination Management Plan for the region will become a significant endeavour involving wide community consultation and detailed analysis," he said.
"Also ensuring that financial and structural resources are developed to implement Tourism Snowy Mountains' destination marketing strategies will be one of the Board's major priorities in 2013.
"The recent release of the State Cabinet-endorsed Visitor Economy Taskforce recommendations now places considerable onus on local communities to provide capacity and demand funding for RTO activities. We have to approach the future with our eyes wide open and look at the ways other successful tourism destinations raise necessary funding from within their regions if we are to successfully compete in the future."