The drivers of our record tourism figures

There are some remarkably positive figures in the latest Tourism Research Australia visitor surveys.

The Sunshine Coast led the state in international visitor growth and experienced a 27.5 per cent increase in international visitor expenditure for the year to June 30 2019, compared to the previous year. While this is naturally taking much of the spotlight, there are other figures which highlight just how well the region is performing, especially given the intense competition and uncertain economic times.

Take for instance the 43.7 per cent increase in domestic business travel to the Sunshine Coast. There can be a number of interpretations and the good thing is that all are positive.

Firstly, it is a reflection of the businesses that are setting up on the Sunshine Coast marketing themselves to the rest of Australia and around the world.

It is now quite achievable to set up a business on the Sunshine Coast to take advantage of lower costs and the enviable lifestyle and do business regularly, and in person, with principal markets such as Sydney and Melbourne.

In fact, now you can easily connect out of Sydney for international flights with the additional Qantas daily service ideally timed for connections to and from the Sunshine Coast. And those linkages will become even more comprehensive once the new runway at Sunshine Coast Airport opens next year.

Secondly, the figures demonstrate the success of the Sunshine Coast’s business events program.

The Major Events Board, Sunshine Coast Council and Business Events Sunshine Coast have worked tirelessly to attract major events and conferences, and with the new Sunshine Coast Convention Centre open and the upgrading of The Events Centre, 2019 is on track to be the biggest year yet for this high-yielding sector.

We are also making headway with large-scale new events – such as the innovative, region-wide food festival, The Curated Plate – as well as our quite remarkable range of ‘quirky’ festivals that might be smaller in size, but provide additional reasons for visitors to return.

If we look at where our visitors are coming from there have been increases across the board, but internationally, the Visit Sunshine Coast team’s marketing effort with its Federal, State and local partners has seen record growth from both traditional markets – such as New Zealand, USA and the UK – and emerging markets in Asia.

In this week’s Future Tourism event, demographer Bernard Salt urged us to “embrace the future” that the new runway, new hotels and other infrastructure is offering. The tourism renaissance achieved over the past three years suggests we are ready and willing to accept the challenge.