A week that changed Coast tourism

Has there been a bigger week for tourism infrastructure development on the Sunshine Coast?

It’s hard to imagine.

We started it off with Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones officially opening the Sunshine Coast Convention Centre, a $10 million vote of confidence by Novotel Twin Waters Resort’s owners, the Shakespeare Group.

The scope of the venue is very impressive because it can cater for conferences of up to 1500 delegates, tradeshows that require more than 3000 square metres of exhibition space, and events that benefit from making use of the versatility of the Novotel’s extensive grounds.

Attracting a high-powered conference, event or exhibition injects a vast amount of expenditure across the region, but we have struggled to host such events prior to the opening of the new Convention Centre.

Its opening was one of the reasons why the State Government and Council invited investors from around the country to the Sunshine Coast to showcase the region’s attractiveness and suitability for tourism infrastructure investment.

Principally we need new hotels, and that can range from glamping resorts through to 5-star international hotels.

It’s equally important to have world-class attractions, and the investment in developing a camping village at Australia Zoo and confirmation of funding for upgrading our most famous icon, the Big Pineapple, all send the right message to potential investors.

On the seas, Sunreef’s Whale One was relaunched this week after a major upgrade and just in time for the annual migration of humpback whales, which are already making their way up the coast. Sunreef’s innovation with launching the pioneering ‘swimming with whales’ highlights just how much the Sunshine Coast tourism industry has matured in recent years.

And that’s why Visit Sunshine Coast decided to become a platinum sponsor of the Sunshine Coast Business Awards, because we want to encourage innovation. The industry is highly competitive and by combining business acumen and our fantastic natural resources, the Sunshine Coast can be one of Australia’s most dynamic regional tourism economies.

It was fitting that the week ended with the announcement of the visionary draft Master Plan for Sunshine Coast Airport 2040.

The new runway and plans for enhancing passenger and aviation services will indeed be a game changer for the region. While I’m sure most residents are excited about the potential of flying directly to destinations around Australia and the Asia Pacific, I am more excited about how the redeveloped airport will make it easier for local and international visitors to come to the Sunshine Coast.

I wasn’t around the Sunshine Coast when the existing runway opened in 1983, but I am told that fundamentally changed the tourism scene with new hotels developed to cater for the demand. The same will apply when the new runway opens and our region is able to attract wide-bodied passenger jets with full loads from a range of existing and new markets.

To say it was exciting to be in the Sunshine Coast tourism industry this week would be the understatement of the year!