Intrastate travel boom for Sunshine Coast during Pandemic

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The Sunshine Coast was successful in developing its intrastate market in response to mitigating the extent of the disruption caused by COVID-19, according to the latest National Visitor Survey (NVS), released by Tourism Research Australia.

The NVS covers the September 2020 quarter – from 1 July to 30 September – when for most of the quarter Queensland’s border was closed to its principal interstate markets NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

As a result, Visit Sunshine Coast launched a campaign targeting the Queensland drive market, which saw a 39.7 percent increase in intrastate visitors for the three months, compared to the same period in 2019. A total of 837,000 intrastate visitors travelled to the Sunshine Coast in the quarter, compared to 599,000 for the corresponding quarter in 2019.

While Covid-19 had a severe impact on overall visitor numbers for the quarter, the Sunshine Coast’s intrastate drive-market campaigns shielded the region from a larger fall. Overall visitor numbers were down, but the Sunshine Coast recorded the lowest decrease of all Queensland regions, declining -3.7 percent to 886,000 for the quarter.

Commenting on the figures, Visit Sunshine Coast CEO, Matt Stoeckel, said the National Visitor Survey figures highlighted the devastating impact of Covid-19 on the tourism industry, but the policy of targeting the intrastate market had insulated the region from the worst of the impact.

“The second half of 2020 was dominated by uncertainty and disruptions caused by COVID-19. With over three million residents within a 300km radius of the Sunshine Coast, the region switched its strategy and focused on targeting this significant drive market to alleviate the declines from interstate and international sources.

“Also supporting the intrastate strategy has been the launch of our new For Real branding. This branding was developed through research that provided insights into the desire of Australian travellers to visit destinations that offer uncrowded, natural-focused attractions, and authentic characters and experiences. The NVS statistics are a great indicator to us that this new brand is right on point.  

“It’s encouraging to hear that many of our Sunshine Coast operators have also enjoyed a strong summer period, with some operators even reporting above-forecast results for the period. However, many operators that have been unable to pivot their businesses to cater for an intrastate market are still doing it really tough, and there is still a lot more work to be done to support these operators navigate their way through COVID-19”.

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