What visitor trends are you noticing to the Sunshine Coast?
With the expansion of Sunshine Coast Airport confirmed and the interest shown by international airlines in the region, it is important that we raise the profile of the Sunshine Coast in Asia’s key markets. Traditionally, Sunshine Coast has focused efforts on key western source markets of New Zealand, United Kingdom, German speaking Europe and North America. With a large population of experienced travellers looking for more ‘experiential’ style product, this the ideal time to grow our presence in Asia whilst nurturing our key western markets of NZ, UK, Europe and North America. We hope the upgrading of Sunshine Coast Airport will be complete by 2020, so it is important to cultivate our trade relations and undertake planning now for further direct international access.
What destinations, resorts and attractions are proving particularly popular?
While some of the region’s key hero destinations and experiences may have recognition – such as stylish Noosa and acclaimed attractions such as Australia Zoo – our natural attractions and the scenic beauty of the destination are our major tourism assets. Our beaches are amongst the best in Australia, but what makes us different to many other beach destinations is the diversity of our attractions.
The Hinterland is just half an hour from the coast and offers spectacular views, mountain and rainforest treks, waterfalls, beautiful villages with high-quality food and retail outlets and world-class botanic gardens. Our coastline offers the rare opportunity to swim with humpback whales during the migrating season, while you can kayak or feed dolphins all-year round.
Then we have the unique off-road Great Beach Drive, where you get to experience the spectacular coloured sands, visit two UNESCO recognised biospheres and ride horses in the surf. Other unique attributes include our new and innovative food and produce experience, the Sunshine Coast Food Trail, which allows visitors to enjoy our renowned fresh local produce and world class dining through a ‘paddock to plate’ experience. Our seafood is also huge attraction for our international visitors.
What’s new for the Sunshine Coast and what will appeal to different markets?
The Sunshine Coast officially turns 50 this year and will celebrate the anniversary with a series of events across the region, along with the start of several major tourism infrastructure projects that are set to be ‘game changers’ for the region’s tourism future.
Access remains a key priority. While we are fortunate to be just one hour’s drive from Brisbane Airport, the expansion of Sunshine Coast Airport – which was recently designated an international airport – will open massive opportunities, particularly in terms of Asia.
The return of Qantas to Sunshine Coast Airport in the past year – joining Virgin, Jetstar and Air New Zealand – means that getting to the Sunshine Coast has never been easier, but an extended runway and enhanced passenger facilities will add a new dimension to the region’s tourism resources.
Also, set to be fully launched in 2017, is the Sunshine Coast’s new web-based Food Trail, which allows visitors to discover the region’s world-class ‘paddock to plate’ food experience, including new cooking schools, restaurants, breweries and providores.
An extensive events calendar will be announced shortly for the 50th anniversary year, including major sporting, food and arts festivals. Already committed are international surf and triathlon events, the Australian Cruise Conference, Australian Events Awards, Australian Society of Travel Writers Annual Convention & Awards, Wanderlust and an all-encompassing Horizon Festival of Arts & Culture, which will showcase the local region in September.
What’s your business development strategy for 2017 and how will you be promoting the destination? What role will experiential marketing and social media play?
Visit Sunshine Coast will continue to target high-yielding customers from our key western source markets while nurturing our emerging Asian markets to increase length of stay and disperse our guests across the region. With all our global marketing efforts, we align and leverage from our partners Tourism Australia and Tourism and Events Queensland’s strategic direction. Tourism is all about experiences, and digital and social media marketing play are integral role in the marketing mix.
How important is the travel trade to selling Australia and what incentives, training and campaigns do you have in place for each market?
The travel trade remains our key partner in distributing Sunshine Coast tourism products and experiences to consumers globally. Visit Sunshine Coast is committed to supporting and developing our global distribution partnerships accordingly through the coordination and hosting of trade educationals, undertaking regular sales training and implementing tactical campaigns to drive visitation.
To view Visit Sunshine Coast’s new 2017 International Travel Planner, click here