International visitors flock to Sunshine Coast

By Abbey Cannan

In the past five years, the rate of international visitors travelling to the Sunshine Coast region has increased by 30.97 per cent.

According to data from the International Visitor Survey conducted by Tourism Research Australia, since the years 2012-13 to 2016-17 international visitors to the Sunshine Coast has climbed from 226,000 to 296,000, gaining 70,000 visitors.

Visit Sunshine Coast Director of International Marketing Rachel Meyer said visitation to the Sunshine Coast has experienced a steady increase over the past five years as a result of the wider industry and key stakeholders aligning marketing strategy, activity and resources to deliver maximise return on investment.

“Destination Sunshine Coast has taken an ‘always on’ approach and participated in major destination awareness and tactical marketing campaigns in our key target regions over this period,” she said.

Ms Meyer said the region’s international target audience is defined as the “high value traveller” from the primary western markets of New Zealand, United Kingdom, Germany and North America.

“Whilst the focus has been placed on these primary markets, VSC (Visit Sunshine Coast) has also nurtured eastern emerging markets of Singapore, Korea and Greater China, as well as Nordic region and other continental European markets,” she said.

“Holiday/leisure travel forms most of inbound travel to the Sunshine Coast currently representing around 80 per cent of the total market.

“Whilst consumer segments and interests vary slightly from region to region, the predominant traveller type is a free and independent traveller, highly educated, urbanised and digitally connected.”

Ms Meyer said there is potential for attracting further growth from traditional markets to the region as well as considerable potential to grow Asian inbound travel, especially with the opening of the new Sunshine Coast Airport second and larger runway.

“While the Sunshine Coast is not aiming to attract large scale leisure groups (of the sort the Gold Coast specialises in), the region is well-suited to attract smaller high-yield group business from Asian markets such as Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong,” Ms Meyer said.

“Major initiatives now under development for completion by 2020/2021 such as the upgraded Sunshine Coast Airport with significantly increased capacity, and the Bruce Highway upgrade will provide outstanding opportunities for the Sunshine Coast region to continue growing its inbound visitor economy in the long term.”

In the past 10 years, international visitors to the Queensland tourism region has risen from 2,112,000 to 2,618,000 gaining 506,000 visitors.

According to survey statistics, international tourists visiting Queensland has increased by 23.96 per cent from the years 2007-08 to 2016-17.

The Queensland region with the highest percentage increase over 10 years is Brisbane at 36.36 per cent, while the region with the largest increase over the five-year period is the Gold Coast at 37.5 per cent.

University of the Sunshine Coast Tourism Lecturer Dr Vikki Schaffer said the profile of the Sunshine Coast has been extensively enhanced over the past five years.

“This coordinated effort has seen the Sunshine Coast listed on the weather charts of national morning news (Today Show), visitation by these types of shows on a regular basis, an increase in high profile events, infrastructure development, business investment, celebrity visits and endorsements, improvements to the airport and an increase in our population,” she said.

Dr Schaffer said the rise in visitation would benefit the region with a possible increase in employment opportunities, investment, and more infrastructure and development.

“But it is important that development is consistent with the Sunshine Coast story – not to destroy what people and local residents are here to enjoy,” Dr Schaffer said.

CEO of Visit Sunshine Coast Simon Latchford told the Sunshine Coast Council, “The region remains one of Queensland’s most popular destinations for international visitors – and rightly so – Caloundra, Maroochydore, Mooloolaba, Coolum and Noosa have been established for many decades as some of Australia’s favourite beach destinations, but what has been particularly encouraging is the interest in our Hinterland attractions – the adventure options, health retreats, the historic Hinterland villages and the incredible richness of our food producers.”

Tourism regions in Queensland that have endured a decrease in international visitors over the last 10 years (2007-08 to 2016-17) include Fraser Coast (26%), Mackay (16.67%), Outback (23.53%), Southern Great Barrier Reef (2.63%) and Townsville (10.2%).

Although some Queensland regions are on a downfall, Ms Meyer said that with continued collaboration by major stakeholders and a commitment to the Visit Sunshine Coast international marketing strategy, the future looks bright for the Sunshine Coast.





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