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Bumper summer season and fresh faces grace Sunshine Coast

February 11, 2014 Destination Global, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Queensland’s Sunshine Coast came to Sydney last week with plenty to proclaim: a record events calendar, new attractions, a fantastic start to the year and fresh faces at the helm.

Sunshine Coast team (from left)- PR professional Peter Hook, Sunshine Coast chi ... mbrose, Sunshine Coast Destination Limited (SCDL) board member Mark Skinner

Sunshine Coast team (from left): PR professional Peter Hook, Sunshine Coast chief executive Simon Ambrose, Sunshine Coast Destination Limited (SCDL) board member Mark Skinner

The Sunshine Coast tourism sector is reporting its most impressive start to a year for four years, with operators recording a 20-30% rise in business over the summer holidays.

Sunshine Coast chief executive Simon Ambrose and Sunshine Coast Destination Limited (SCDL) board member Mark Skinner joined one of the travel industry’s best known and best connected public relations professionals, Peter Hook, in Sydney last Friday to spread the good news.

Sunshine Coast Airport recorded a 16% increase in December traffic, and early indications suggest this figure should be exceeded for January. For the year, domestic routes grew strongly, with Melbourne growing 31%, while  internationally, the Auckland route grew by 46%, with the season extended from 12 to 17 weeks. Sydney traffic is about 20% up, year on year.

Skinner said SCDL is moving to change perception of the Sunshine Coast from a series of beaches to a region with much more to offer, including serving as gateway to World heritage-listed Fraser Island. The Sunshine Coast has a great hinterland, filled with Sunshine Coast worker prepares wine harvestattractions. It even grows grapes and makes excellent wine – Montville Shiraz being a prime and excellent example. Winemaking (see picture at left) is an aspect of the Sunny Coast that many people remain unaware of. In a nutshell, the Sunshine Coast is a lot more than just coast.

SCDL is currently launching its most comprehensive calendar of events, along with a wide range of new accommodation, attractions, restaurants and experiences.

Its bumper summer season follows three summer holiday periods that have been badly hit by adverse weather and flooding. At the same time, overall tourism performance over the past three years has been impacted by uncertain economic and political conditions.

This year, however, is already looking much more positive, Ambrose says.

“We can’t control the weather, but two months of fine, sunny weather has given the Sunshine Coast tourism sector a real kick-start after a number of below-average seasons.

“But more encouraging is the level of investment in new and upgraded tourism enterprises, which gives us cause for longer-term optimism.

“In recent months major attractions such as Underwater World and the Ginger Factory have invested significantly in upgrading their facilities, while millions have been spent on developing world-class natural attractions such as the Maleny Botanic Gardens. New deluxe properties such as the Seahaven on Hastings Street in Noosa have opened, and our Hinterland operators have combined to showcase their collection of festivals under the one innovative umbrella called HinterLand.

“We have been fortunate to cement a three-year contract for direct flights from Auckland, and our airport team is constantly seeking to increase the number of domestic flights direct into Sunshine Coast Airport. We also have the advantage of a motorway system that connects Brisbane airport to the southern end of the Sunshine Coast in just over an hour, which means that we are increasingly able to target international visitors. We have a strong European, American and New Zealand following, but this year we will be aiming to build our market-share from south-east Asia, China, Japan and India.

“Events in 2013 – from Tough Mudder and the Real Food Festival to the Global Eco-Tourism Conference – really elevated the Sunshine Coast’s profile amongst Australian travellers, and with events such as the Noosa International Food & Wine Festival coming up, the Coast’s reputation for hosting world-class events is growing strongly.

“In the past week it was announced that the Sunshine Coast would be the venue for the DestinationQ conference later this year, bringing 400 tourism operators to the region for a two-day conference. It will highlight the Sunshine Coast’s reputation as one of the best destinations for business events and exhibitions. It is a real coup for the region and should cap off the strongest year for tourism in the region for a number of years.”

Simon Ambrose is part of a major new look to Sunshine Coast Destination Limited (SCDL). He joined the organisation as chief executive in September 2014, coming from a similar position in Margaret River. A new Director of Marketing, Laughlin Rigby, joined SCDL from the Irish Tourist Board, and a new Chair of SCDL, Grant Hunt, will take up his role shortly, bringing decades of experience to the position, including 10 years at the helm of Voyages Hotels & Resorts.

Written by : Peter Needham

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