Tourist attractions across the Sunshine Coast are ready to catch their breath after a highly successful summer school holiday period and if the latest national and international visitor survey results are anything to go by, they will be in for many more busy holiday periods in the near future.
The Sunshine Coast has outperformed its southeast Queensland neighbours in tourism growth, experiencing the best increase in visitor numbers, according to the latest National and International Visitor surveys.
The National Visitor Survey (NVS), which was released earlier this month, showed a record 3.5 million domestic visitors travelled to the Sunshine Coast to the year ending September 2018, generating record expenditure of $2.4 billion, a rise of more than 18.4 per cent.
Tourism Research Australia’s International Visitor Survey showed more than 319,000 visitors arrived from abroad, also breaking a record with visitors increasing by 8.5 per cent and spend increasing by 5.3 per cent, totalling $248.2 million.
In comparison, the Gold Coast only experienced a one per cent increase in international visitor numbers.
Sunreef Mooloolaba owner Dan Hart says bookings across the business, which has been expanded to include hire equipment and Whale One’s cruises, have “certainly been very strong so far this season”.
“Forward bookings right through to our whale watching season from June to November and our Australia’s first Swim with Whales experience from July to October are also very strong. We are also seeing a lot more people this summer visiting the shop and the revitalised Wharf Mooloolaba.”
Meanwhile Sea Life Sunshine Coast general manager Quinn Clarke says the attraction has had a “bumper year”.
“It’s great to see the Sunshine Coast grow at such an impressive rate and we welcome it’s continued growth over these next 12 months,” he says.
The Wharf Mooloolaba co-owner Dirk Long says the precinct is having “a fantastic summer.”
“You can certainly see the increase [in visitor numbers] and it is very satisfying to see everyone enjoying the precinct, taking advantage of the great activities, shopping and wide selection of dining available.
“It’s great to see people creating their own day at the Wharf incorporating the things they love.”
Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Simon Latchford says the increase in visitation recorded in the national and international surveys along with the anecdotal evidence from local businesses and attractions is the result of highly targeted and effective campaigns both in Australia and overseas to attract new visitors and encourage past visitors to return.
“The performance out of New Zealand has been outstanding, along with continued growth from the American, Asian and European markets, and the fact that they are spending more reflects the diversity of attractions available across the Sunshine Coast,” he says.
“This is in addition to particularly strong growth from our traditional domestic drive market, complemented by the wide range of direct flights into Sunshine Coast Airport. Qantas will shortly add an additional daily-direct service from Sydney, which will help boost leisure, corporate and conference travel even further.”