Sunshine Coast leads Queensland in international visitor growth

The Sunshine Coast delivered its highest ever international and domestic visitor numbers in the year to June 30.

The Sunshine Coast region grew international visitor expenditure by 27.5 per cent in the year to 30 June 2019, compared to the previous year, on the back of a record 322,000 international visitors, up 5.3 per cent for the year, and a 21.1 per cent increase in spending to an average of $901 per visitor.

The 27.5 per cent international visitor expenditure growth compared with State-wide growth of 5.5 per cent to $6 billion, which was also a record for Queensland tourism.

The Sunshine Coast region’s popularity with international visitors was built on growth from both the region’s traditional overseas markets – New Zealand (+19.5 per cent), UK (+2.5 per cent, compared to a State-wide decrease of –5.2 per cent), and USA (+29.1 per cent) – and emerging markets, with Asian source markets delivering a record 24 per cent increase.

Visit Sunshine Coast CEO, Simon Latchford, said the launch next year of the international-capable runway at Sunshine Coast Airport and the commencement of international-friendly air services earlier this year had created massive interest in the region over the past year.

“There has been considerable appetite for the Sunshine Coast from both traditional and emerging markets for the past two or three years, but the news of improved air access, new hotel developments, and enhanced attractions has really accelerated the interest,” he said.

Figures for business and business events travel were also up a record 43.9 per cent to 374,000.

Latchford said that the collaborative efforts with Sunshine Coast Council and Tourism Events Queensland to drive major business events – including medical, technology and economic development conferences – to the Sunshine Coast were reflected clearly in the NVS figures.

“One of our key aims over the past three years has been to diversify the region’s market base,” he said.

“For instance, the region is working hard to grow food-based tourism, with the inaugural staging of The Curated Plate earlier this year. Arts tourism and experiential tourism are also being targeted, while our major events calendar continues to grow and diversify. Just recently, the Sunshine Coast won the ‘Aussies’ (the Australian Surf Life Saving championships) in 2021, which will bring over 20,000 visitors to the region.

“One of the most important aspects of Sunshine Coast tourism in the past three years has been the go-ahead for major new tourism infrastructure projects including the upgrade of Sunshine Coast Airport, the launch of the Sunshine Coast Convention Centre and approval of a number of quality hotel projects.

“It’s a great team effort, and with next year’s launch of the new runway, the sky is literally the limit for Sunshine Coast tourism, including even a shot at jointly hosting the 2032 Olympic Games.”