Sunshine Coast sees uptick in domestic tourism spend as it pivots to recovery phase

VSC CEO Matt Stoeckel & Qld Minister for Tourism Stirling Hinchliffe at VSC's AGM.

The Sunshine Coast has seen record expenditure from the domestic overnight market in 2020-21 despite it being one of the most challenging years ever for tourism operators.

Speaking at Visit Sunshine Coast’s annual general meeting, Chair David Ryan said domestic visitor numbers declined by 7 per cent in the year ending June 2021 against the same period the year before.

“And if we add in the loss of international travel, the region suffered a 13.9 per cent decline in overall visitor numbers,” said Ryan.

“It shows just how tough the year was for the tourism industry. The hardest hit were our international markets, as well as our primary interstate markets of NSW and Victoria that remained closed for much of the period.

“Of our sectors, business travel was the hardest hit with a 40.8 per cent decline. The loss of corporate and conference travel particularly affected mid-week performance and yield.

“But there were some highlights in the region’s tourism performance during the period. One of these was that despite the unprecedented disruption of Covid-19, for the year ending June 2021, the Sunshine Coast achieved a new record of $2.8 billion in domestic overnight visitor expenditure. This was a 24.5 per cent increase year on year and a 7.7 per cent increase compared to 2019.

“So despite this hugely challenging environment Sunshine Coast was able to get on with the job at hand and from a performance point of view, we finished the 2021 financial year as the most resilient tourism region in Queensland – and one of the best performing regions across Australia.”

Ryan confirmed that two member-elected Directors, Jennifer Swaine and Zoe Sparks, had been re-elected to the Board, while Skilled Based Directors, Mark Skinner and Rodger Powell, had been re-appointed to the Board.

Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Matt Stoeckel said that with borders opening in a few weeks’ time to NSW and Victoria there was still significant work to do to re-establish these markets.

“The upcoming summer holiday season is anything but ‘back to normal’ as yet, and we have plenty of capacity in the second half of January, but our members are reporting increased optimism for the year ahead with the return of more stability,” said Stoeckel.

“One of the reasons for the resilience of our performance in 2020-21 was the agility and effectiveness of our marketing campaigns, and we are already looking ahead to 2022 with a range of campaigns to rebuild and revive the market.”