Sun shines on Sunshine Coast as region records Queensland’s highest international visitor growth at 15.7%

The Sunshine Coast has once again recorded the highest inbound growth in Queensland, with the region attracting an increase of 15.7% in international visitors in 2014.

Expenditure by international tourists visiting the Sunshine Coast grew 17% to a record $219.5 million in 2014.

The figures from the International Visitor Survey (IVS) were announced today at Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) in Melbourne.

The Sunshine Coast’s 15.7% increase in international visitor numbers compared with the overall Australian increase of 7.5% and Queensland growth of 5.5%.

All Queensland regions increased their inbound business, with Brisbane up 2.3%, Gold Coast 7%, and Tropical North Queensland 7.8%.

Europe was the star performer for the Sunshine Coast with the German market growing 45.3% (adding over 10,000 visitors) in 2014, as a result of Sunshine Coast’s marketing campaigns in Germany.

The German market was particularly attracted to the newly created ‘Australia’s Nature Coast’, a partnership formed by the Sunshine and Fraser coasts to market the region’s natural and adventure attractions.

Sunshine Coast was the only region in Queensland to defy a downturn in UK travel, recording growth of 8.2% compared to a national decline of 1.5%, and a 2.3% decline in Queensland.

With an increase in direct flights from New Zealand, the New Zealand market was up 18.7%, and with Air New Zealand announcing increased flights for 2015-16, the Sunshine Coast was anticipating even higher growth figures over the next two years.

Sunshine Coast Destination Ltd (SCDL) is the regional tourism organisation that manages and promotes tourism on the Sunshine Coast, representing local tourism areas such as Noosa, Gympie, Caloundra and the Hinterland.

SCDL CEO, Simon Ambrose, said the figures rewarded a highly strategic approach to international marketing by SCDL and its member partners over the past 18 months

“Europe has always been a key destination for us because of our emphasis on nature and experiences,” said Mr Ambrose.

“Together with a highly committed group of Sunshine Coast industry partners we have been conducting major campaigns in Europe, and particularly Germany, through both the Sunshine Coast and Australia’s Nature Coast, and our combination of incredible beaches, Hinterland, world-class food and dining and accessibility, has clearly paid dividends.

“The New Zealand market is coming to the Sunshine Coast in record numbers thanks to direct services to our own airport and importantly, our destination has seen growth in a variety of areas – holidays, events, conferences and education. We are an incredibly desirable location for visitors, and because we offer such diversity of attractions – from surfing to trekking, from artistic festivals to bush-tucker tours – we are perceived as a far richer destination than others which are seen as just ‘beach destinations’.”

Mr Ambrose said that this had been particularly important for the European market, which both stayed longer and spent more. He said that the IVS statistics also revealed strong growth from Italy, France, the Scandinavian countries, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

He said that there had been encouraging figures from the North American and Asian markets, but the Sunshine Coast had struck a particular chord with the European market, and SCDL’s high-level participation at the influential Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) event in Melbourne over the next week would build on that, especially with the launch of the new Great Beach Drive.

“The team at SCDL has put in an enormous effort over the past 18 months to grow both international and Australian visitation to the Sunshine Coast by creating our own unique image,” said Mr Ambrose.

“We are seeing repeat visitation with many markets. They may come initially for the beach experience, but after they discover the rainforests, Hinterland villages, events, the food and the arts they are increasingly returning for another taste.”

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