Tourism in the Blue Mountains is experiencing a strong recovery since the pandemic, with a recent survey showing a 35 per cent increase in visitors to the region. Around 3.8 million domestic visitors came to the Blue Mountains in 2022, which is a 35 per cent increase on the previous year, according to results from the National Visitor Survey released by Tourism Research Australia. Tourists were also reaching into their pockets, with domestic overnight spending up by 59 per cent and day trips giving the local economy a $238 million boost (up by 38 per cent on the previous year). Blue Mountains City Council mayor Mark Greenhill said, after a period of decline due to COVID and natural disasters, the return of tourists to our region was a promising sign. "These figures show that tourism is far from declining, it is bouncing back strongly," he said. "Our local businesses have struggled, due to multiple years of disasters. Tourism is the lifeblood of our local economy. It's great to see visitors returning to our beautiful region." Blue Mountains Tourism (BMT) president Jason Cronshaw, who owns the Blue Mountains Explorer Bus and is operations manager at Scenic World, said the figures were encouraging, although some businesses and townships were still not back to normal. "Two years ago the tourism landscape looked very grim with many businesses, including mine, wondering if they would make it through the pandemic," he said. "BMT, in partnership with the council, used the quiet time to rebrand the destination to guide visitors, especially those who have [seen] the Mountains before, on a deeper experience. "It's fantastic to again welcome visitors from around the world, and the future is positive. There are numerous new businesses and experiences, and we are blessed that the Blue Mountains is once again a premier destination for international guests." BMT would continue to advocate for funding to continue and build on that work, Mr Cronshaw said. "Our next focus is to encourage visitors to spend money in our towns and villages to assist more business back and help lower vacancy rates." Blue Mountains City Council has a number of initiatives aimed at boosting tourism and assisting local businesses. "We have a significant amount of current and future grant funding to bolster our town centres. For example, there has been considerable investment in the Katoomba Masterplan, with work about to begin on the Civic Place revitalisation," Cr Greenhill said. "Council recently achieved ECO Destination Certification for the region, which will lead to more environmentally conscious visitors coming to our region. "These are visitors who are more likely to stay longer, explore more and in doing so, have a richer, more authentic visitor experience while making a far greater financial and emotional investment in the region."