Hopes for Wharf renovation to halt tourism decline

A local restaurant is eager for a famous tourism operator to begin work on the Mooloolaba Wharf after tourism has declined on the Sunshine Coast.

Merlin Entertainment Group is the second largest global tourism operator in the world and acquired Mooloolaba attractions as part of its $140 million takeover, including plans to renovate Mooloolaba Wharf and Underwater World.

Mooloolaba Wharf’s eneral manager Richard Barram said “we are very much focusing on how we can improve the guest experience and ensure we deliver memorable days out for our visitors.”

The Wharf attracts 500,000 tourists every year, and this number is said to at least double after the renovations.

“We are currently reviewing plans for both Underwater World and Mooloolaba Wharf and as soon as we are in a position to announce these, we will be working with all relevant parties to bring these to life,” Mr Barram said.

See Restaurant Mooloolaba is one of the main attractions at Mooloolaba Wharf and will directly benefit from the renovation.

See Restaurant Mooloolaba owner, Adam Freeman is eager for work to begin.

“I am definitely in favour of rebuilding the Wharf, the restaurant has been here for 10 years and no major improvement has been done in that time,” Mr Freeman said.

Mr Freeman said the current condition of the Wharf makes it hard for See Restaurant to attract customers.

“We are at a stage now where we are not getting any more tourists, no matter how we sell the Wharf on television or radio.

“Look at the Wharf. There is nothing at the Wharf. At night time, it’s dead,” he said.

Mr Freeman said if council don’t do anything about attracting more tourists to the Sunshine Coast, businesses will keep on declining.

“With the steady drop in tourists each year, it’s getting harder and harder to keep our head above water.

“At this rate the majority of small businesses will start closing,” he said.

Mooloolaba resident Lorraine Finlay is against plans to renovate Mooloolaba Wharf because of extra traffic.

“It is already challenging to find a car park on Sundays and public holidays, particularly around the Wharf,” she said.

“The renovations will double the amount of traffic in Mooloolaba.”

Plans for a multi-storey car park near the Wharf have been put forward, but were rejected by the council due to height restrictions.

See Restaurant Mooloolaba manger Aris Pafenio said he is more eager than ever for the renovations to start after a recent decline of customers.

“May and June are usually quieter months for the restaurant, but this year it has been the quietest I have ever seen,” Mr Pafenio said.

See Restaurant has closed on Sundays, minimised labour costs and increased promotions to save money during the slow season.

“The renovation will bring more tourists to the restaurant and help us get back on our feet again,” he said.

Mr Pafenio said other restaurants on the Sunshine Coast are also experiencing a decrease in customers and hopes the renovation will recover the current drop in tourism.

By Laura Murphy

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