Last year, the Sunshine Coast attracted 3.6 million overnight visitors and a further 5.8 million day trippers. Of the 3.6 million staying in the region, 3.3 million were domestic visitors and only 291,000 were international. This indicates we need to have a more balanced approach to our mix of visitors coming to the region, so we are not so heavily reliant on the domestic market.
With the Bruce Highway undergoing future improvements, there will be short-term disruption and greater impacts, which inevitably will lead to delays and dissatisfied holidaymakers. This makes the new Sunshine Coast Airport redevelopment all the more important in creating an alternative access point for the flow of all visitors, but importantly attracting a larger proportion of international visitors.
But it is not all about us and we cannot do it alone.
Although the upgraded airport will not be completed until 2020, our team is laying the groundwork now through our international marketing and partnerships.
We have Visit Sunshine Coast (VSC) representatives now located in New Zealand, Singapore and Europe and it is the perfect timing to cultivate Asian trade relations. This complements our strong presence and activity in our ‘traditional’ inbound markets such as New Zealand, Europe and America.
But it is not all about us and we cannot do it alone. This ‘game-changer’ project has been made possible by the vision and drive of Sunshine Coast Council and Sunshine Coast Airport. Moving forward, it will require an entire team effort from strategic partnerships with Tourism and Events Queensland, tourism agencies and airlines through to working with local tourism businesses. We need to work collectively now to build capacity and demand for completion of the airport in 2020.
Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) was held earlier in the month and is Australia’s largest annual travel and tourism business-to-business event bringing together more than 2500 travel industry delegates from more than 30 countries. VSC along with 22 local tourism operators and partners attended the event.
I believe the region remains attractive for international visitors. Caloundra, Maroochydore, Mooloolaba, Coolum and Noosa are some of Australia’s favourite beach destinations, but also encouraging is the interest in our hinterland attractions – the adventure options, health retreats, historic villages and the new food trail.
Now we just need to tell the rest of the world where we are and get the balance of visitors right leading to sustainable tourism growth.