THE North Coast is Australia's most visited region outside a capital city and raked in $2.5 billion of tourist money over the year to September.
A new national Tourism Research Australia survey has revealed the region attracted 4.5 million visitors who stayed for a collective 16.7 million nights over the 12-month period.
The North Coast fell behind the Gold Coast on daytrippers but still saw a 19% increase on the previous year in day trip numbers to 6.4 million.
Those daytrippers were reaching deeper into their pockets, spending $753 million last year compared to $560 million in 2013-14.
There were gains across New South Wales, which as a state far surpassed even its closest rivals.
Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said regional NSW was the state's biggest tourism drawcard, pulling about twice as many overnight visitors as Sydney.
"NSW received more than 27.8 million visitors in the last 12 months, an increase of 5%," he said.
"These visitors to NSW stayed 90 million nights and spent nearly $16 billion in the last 12 months, an increase of 5%, providing a massive economic boost to our state, and creating jobs in restaurants, hotels and our superior visitor attractions."
"NSW received 8.1 million more domestic visitors than Queensland and 6.6 million more than Victoria - clearly we are outshining the rest of Australia."
The state's regional areas outside Sydney drew 19.3 million visitors who spent $9.4 billion for the year - the highest domestic overnight expenditure on record.