Steve Irwin’s Hollywood Star to shine for Sunshine Coast tourism

North American promotional campaign launched to fuel American growth.

The unveiling today of a ‘star’ on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Steve Irwin is set to continue the strong profile of his Sunshine Coast home in the North American market.

Terri, Bindi and Robert Irwin, were in Hollywood at the unveiling along with some of their closest friends and family from around the world. The newest star is fittingly located directly outside the ‘Iguana Vintage Store’.

Terri Irwin said Steve would have been chuffed at the award: “Steve always said that he hoped his message of conservation would live on forever. It means the world to us that Steve’s memory will live on in so many ways, including now on the internationally recognised Hollywood Walk of Fame.

“We’re thrilled that so many people have joined us today in khaki to celebrate. It’s wonderful that there are lots of people back home on the Sunshine Coast celebrating too,” said Terri.

Visit Sunshine Coast has worked closely with the Irwin family to gain the Hollywood recognition for Steve, who played a key role in elevating Sunshine Coast tourism through the establishment of Australia Zoo.

Steve’s popularity in the American market was complemented by the success of his daughter, Bindi, who attracted national and international publicity by finishing as the winner of the top-rating US Dancing with the Stars TV show in 2015.

“The Irwins – Steve, Terri, Bindi and Robert – have been great ambassadors for the Sunshine Coast, and they have always been passionate about promoting the region around the world, and particularly in America, where the Hollywood star reflects his legendary status,” said Visit Sunshine Coast CEO, Simon Latchford. 

Mr Latchford said that the American market had been one of the Sunshine Coast’s most powerful international markets over the past five years.

“In 2012, the Sunshine Coast was attracting 71,000 room nights annually from the USA worth $5.5 million, but by the end of 2017 that had almost tripled to 190,000 room nights, generating $15.6 million in income for local operators. And Americans stay for over 20 nights on average, sharing their dollars across the region,” said Mr Latchford.

“There are many attractive beach destinations in Australia, but to be able to offer attractions of the quality and integrity as Australia Zoo gives us a competitive edge. The fact that it has a backdrop of the Glass House Mountains also highlights our overall ‘naturally refreshing’ message.”

Mr Latchford said that Visit Sunshine Coast was capitalising on Steve Irwin’s Hollywood star with a major promotional campaign in America, starting with the donation of a substantial auction prize at the Steve Irwin Gala Dinner in Beverly Hills on 5 May. Funds raised from the auction will go to Wildlife Warriors Worldwide, the charity Steve and Terri created in 2002 for the global conservation of wildlife and wild places.

The auction prize includes over $5000 worth of inclusions from Sunshine Coast operators, with a major emphasis on natural escapes, and includes a private Wildlife Hospital tour at Australia Zoo with Bindi Irwin.

In addition, Visit Sunshine Coast has partnered with leading North American outbound travel agent Goway Travel, along with Australia Zoo and Tourism Events Queensland to launch a major trade and retail campaign in North America to coincide with the Steve Irwin star accolade.

The campaign focuses heavily on educating North American travel agents on the Sunshine Coast destination and is being delivered through numerous media platforms, including two dedicated Sunshine Coast webinars, blog posts, flyers, online advertising and press releases. Agents will also have the chance to win one of six spots on an all-inclusive Sunshine Coast Famil Trip which will take place in the final quarter of 2018, with Fiji Airways as the airline partner.

Mr Latchford said that Goway Travel were specialists in the Australian market and would be able to tap into both experienced travellers and potential new visitors to Australia.

“Having the Irwins championing the Sunshine Coast really gives us a unique entree to the American travel market because Steve’s face and name still resonates so strongly in the market,” he said.

“They love big characters and Steve was deeply popular with Americans for his incredible enthusiasm and energy, and his ability to mix adventure with a true commitment to conservation.

“The timing of the campaign is perfect as the American economy and dollar are at their strongest levels for many years, and airline capacity from North America has grown substantially over the past few years.”

Feature Image: Terri, Bindi and Robert Irwin celebrate the unveiling of Steve Irwin’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (credit: Lucas Rossi Photography)