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Plans underway to target drive markets post COVID-19

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Plans underway to target drive markets post COVID-19

Sunshine Coast tourism has been one of the industries hardest hit by the unprecedented lockdown, but local tourism operators are being encouraged to plan for better times ahead.

Covid-19 has significantly affected the Coast’s tourism industry with some of our most popular attractions forced to close until restrictions are lifted, which may be for some time.

Despite this, Visit Sunshine Coast is working tirelessly to ensure the region will be ready to welcome visitors when the time is right.

Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Simon Latchford says the intrastate drive market, which consists of about three million people, will be an important group to help kick-start the region’s tourism industry.

“While there is no timeline as yet for an easing of travel restrictions by federal and state governments, it is likely that the Sunshine Coast’s primary target markets post-Covid-19 will be the intrastate drive market, as that is not restricted by state boundaries and there are over three million people living within a 300-kilometre radius.

“Down the track, we will target interstate markets, and a lot of that will also be the drive market, as air services might take longer to resume,” says Mr Latchford.

“While the focus right now is firmly on survival, we will continue to work behind the scenes on the next phase of recovery to support businesses moving forward, while simultaneously working on a multi-tiered campaign strategy so we are prepared to react immediately to the market when travel restrictions ease.”

Figures from the latest National Visitor Survey for 2019 highlight just how integral the local and domestic markets are to the Coast. Intrastate visitors, including the Gold Coast and Brisbane, made up 2.9 million visitors, which was a 6.3 per cent increase from 2018 figures and a nearly 30 per cent increase for visitors from the Gold Coast alone.

Interstate visitors broke several records with a 29.2 per cent increase to 1.1 million tourists, with people from Sydney growing the most (up 43 per cent from 2018), closely followed by 36.8 per cent from New South Wales broadly. While it is impossible to separate the figures, the Brisbane/Gold Coast figures would be largely drive; a high percentage of regional New South Wales would be drive, and up to 50 per cent of Sydney would be drive. Melbourne/Victoria would be weighted towards air travel.

A press release from Tourism Research Australia for the year ending December 2019 shows that Australians took 117.4 million overnight trips and spent $80.7 billion on overnight travel, up 12 per cent year on year.

Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham says this latest data reinforces that tourism is a major economic driver and the lifeblood of many communities around Australia.

“These are unparalleled times for our tourism industry and we shouldn’t underestimate the significant challenges tourism businesses across Australia are facing,” he says.

“That is why our government has taken significant steps to support businesses and jobs across the tourism sector to help them get through these incredibly tough times.”

Mr Birmingham says the government is continuing with the necessary planning to ensure that when all travel restrictions are eased, our tourism industry can recover as quickly as possible and continue to be a major contributor to our economy and employer of Australians.

Visit Sunshine Coast is also working on a major branding initiative that will be rolled out when market conditions are considered suitable to do so.

“We also continue to upgrade our digital platforms, and despite the lack of physical travel, we have continued to share inspirational destination imagery from across the Sunshine Coast on our social media pages to help plant the seed for future holiday plans, so when it is safe to travel again, the Sunshine Coast will be front of mind for visitors,” Mr Latchford says.

“This is complemented by our message to #VisitSunshineCoastLater.

“It is encouraging to see visitors backing the initiative and pledging to visit or return to the Sunshine Coast again when conditions improve.”

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