The latest International Visitor Survey (IVS) saw the Sunshine Coast record the highest growth figure of any region in Queensland, with 9.4% growth and a total of 245,000 international visitors in the year up to September 2014 (compared to the corresponding period of 2013).
This compared with growth of 3.2% in international visitors to Tourism North Queensland and 2.1% for the Gold Coast.
The growth in visitor numbers was complemented by an even greater increase of 12% in nights stayed by international visitors, reflecting success in the Sunshine Coast’s objective of increasing the length of stay.
Stand-out performers included:
- Canada – up 34.4%
- Germany – up 29%
- New Zealand – up 18.4%
- France – up 5.8%
The significant recovery in both international and domestic visitor numbers was a major message during the Sunshine Coast Destination Ltd (SCDL) Annual General Meeting, held yesterday, with Board Chairman, Grant Hunt, declaring that the destination was firmly back on track and well placed to continue growing visitation to the region.
The 2013-14 financial year saw the appointment of Mr Hunt as new Chairman of SCDL, with Simon Ambrose taking over as Chief Executive Officer.
During the AGM, Mr Hunt delivered SCDL’s Annual Report, which outlined a number of initiatives that had improved the organisation’s financial position, with SCDL recording a moderate surplus in 2013-14, compared to a deficit in 2012-13, following a major review of costs.
During the year, SCDL also attracted major contestable funding grants from Tourism & Events Queensland (TEQ) for three projects that were currently in final planning stages
Mr Hunt said that the major changes to the organisation were already contributing to the region’s tourism performance, with domestic overnight visitation in 2013-14 growing 5.2% to 2.8 million overnight visitors, while day trippers grew by 9.7% to 5.4 million. Total domestic expenditure reached $2.3 billion for the year.
He said that new national and international marketing programmes developed during the 2013-14 financial year, and launched recently, were expected to further accelerate the pace of tourism arrivals from key domestic and international source markets.
“During 2013-14, the Australian domestic tourism market was still suffering from a combination of a relatively high Australian dollar and depressed economic conditions, so it was highly impressive that the region was able to record such positive figures during the year,” said Mr Hunt.
“Other regions in Queensland had access to vastly greater marketing and advertising budgets but we were able to outperform them, which reflects the strength of our team and the growing public perception that the Sunshine Coast offers a remarkably diverse and desirable range of attractions that go well beyond our beaches”.
“That perception will have grown further as a result of the Sunshine Coast hosting DestinationQ and other major trade events, which have put the spotlight on the region’s ability to handle world-class conferences and events.”
Mr Hunt said that SCDL’s range of campaigns was underpinned by a dynamic digital marketing strategy that had seen a 45% increase in visitation to the group’s consumer website www.visitsunshinecoast.com.au
Mr Hunt outlined a number of other highlights from the 2013-14 year:
- SCDL attracted the largest membership base of any Regional Tourism Organisation (RTO) in Queensland;
- The TEQ ‘health check’ report showed that SCDL has provided a return of $5,556 for every $1 in funding (compared to the state average of $1,362);
- The Visitor Information Centre model had been fully reviewed to improve cost efficiency and provide volunteers with greater involvement;
- In partnership with Sunshine Coast Airport and TEQ, SCDL secured direct Air New Zealand flights to provide a seasonal service for the next three years and a boost of $132 million into the Sunshine Coast economy;
- Over $28 million of media exposure generated for the Sunshine Coast, an increase of 82% on 2012-13;
- A vibrant events schedule supported by ‘Stay & Play’ packaging via the Visit Sunshine Coast website had significantly increased visitor numbers and length of stay.