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Sunshine Coast finishes year on tourism high

Impressive last financial year saw continued growth for holidays to the Sunshine Coast with UK and New Zealand markets almost back to 2019 levels

Queensland’s Sunshine Coast finished the 2022/23 financial year on a high, according to the latest data released by Tourism Research Australia.

For the 12 months to June 30, 2023, according to the National Visitor Survey, the Sunshine Coast attracted equal-record domestic overnight visitor expenditure of $4.4 billion exceeding both the same period for 2021/22 ($3.0bn), and the pre-Covid year of 2019 ($2.7bn).

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In addition, day trippers to the Sunshine Coast contributed $854 million in 2022/23, growing total visitor expenditure to $5.2 billion for the year. The record overnight expenditure was based on a total of 3.9 million visitors, which was in line with visitor numbers in 2021/22.

Image supplied by Visit Sunshine Coast

The expenditure figures resulted from a significant increase in average spend of visitors to the Sunshine Coast in the 2022/23 financial year, which was $1136 per overnight visitor, up 47.6 percent YOY and up 67.5 percent compared to 2019.

Overnight visitors spent an average of $311 per night – per visitor, which was up 41.2 percent YOY, and 64.6 percent higher than in 2019.

The biggest growth in visitation came from holiday visitors, increasing to 2.3 million annually, which was up 5.1 percent on 2019.

Mercure Sunshine Coast Kawana Waters

Business travel staged a renaissance, growing 9.6 percent to 244,000 visitors in 2022-23, but the number was still 32 percent lower than in 2019.

With the full return of interstate flights, and with Bonza establishing its headquarters on the Sunshine Coast in the first half of 2023, there was a dramatic increase in interstate visitor numbers, to 1.1 million in 2022/23, up 45.7 percent compared to the previous financial year.

NSW visitors led the interstate rush, with 505,000 visitors in 2022/23, 38.4 percent higher than in 2022/23. Victoria grew at an even faster rate of 47.2 percent, with a total of 385,000 Victorians travelling to the Sunshine Coast in the 12 months.

International travel figures from Tourism Research Australia are restricted to the first six months of 2023, but the total of 146,000 overseas visitors was just 3 percent lower than the comparable period in 2019, representing a very strong recovery.

Air New Zealand
Visit Sunshine Coast

The UK and New Zealand markets were almost back to 2019 levels. The strongest growth market was Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR), which was 42.6 percent higher, compared to 2019.

Commenting on the National Visitor Survey results, Visit Sunshine Coast CEO, Matt Stoeckel, said that while there had been significant challenges during 2022/23, Sunshine Coast tourism operators proved highly competitive in the national tourism market.

Matt Stoeckel, CEO, Visit Sunshine Coast

“Despite difficult operating conditions, last financial year saw continued growth for holidays to the Sunshine Coast, which helped build our market share and increase tourism expenditure,” said Mr Stoeckel.

“Our marketing campaigns generated strong interest in, and demand for, the Sunshine Coast and this is reflected in the data coming from Tourism Research Australia.

“While domestic travel results remained very positive for the year, the International Visitor Survey showed that we are yet to reach full recovery in overseas holiday visitors.

“Our direct services from Auckland over the winter months stimulated the trans-Tasman market, and it has been pleasing to see the return of UK, European and Asian visitors to the Sunshine Coast,” he added.

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