When the mercury begins to climb, the visitors begin to make their way to the Riverina.
The end of December represents one of the busiest times of year for tourism in Wagga and surrounding towns.
With more than 10,000 expected for the Skyworks display on New Years Eve, and hundreds anticipated to arrive for the Christmas period.
“The largest tourism segment we see in the Riverina is from family, and families mostly come to visit at Christmas,” said Genevieve Fleming of Destination Riverina, the peak body for regional tourism.
Between Christmas and New Years, the Riverina’s hotel capacity sits at 80 per cent full, with each guest likely to stay three days, and estimated to spend $126 in each night.
Combined with the rest of the year’s peak seasons, it makes for a $1.7 billion tourism industry in the Riverina.
There are limitations to the data collated by NSW Destinations Riverina. Presently, there is no capacity to count private visits or accommodation apparatuses with fewer than 15 beds.
But while the rest of the year’s visitor booms are reliant on events, at the end of the year, the Riverina benefits from family tourism – that is, the arrival of locals’ friends and family from all over the nation.
Describing herself as a “good case study” for the phenomena, Ms Fleming’s own family will be travelling from as far as Ballarat, Victoria and Queensland’s Sunshine Coast to spend the silly season with her in Wagga.
“This time of year is a really good time for business and tourism,” she said.
Though accommodation generally fills out incredibly quickly during this time of year, dollars are brought from all over the region through a process Ms Fleming calls ‘drive tourism’.
“Around Christmas people take large journeys, you know, from Sydney to Adelaide stretches of driving,” Ms Fleming said.
“We want to encourage them to stop along the way. Take an extra night or two for the journey and make a few extra stop offs to see what the towns along the way have to offer. Of course there’s a lot of long-distance driving all year round, but at this time of the year, we find it can be more leisurely.”