The Sunshine Coast capped a stellar year with the announcement of a 19% increase in passenger numbers at Sunshine Coast Airport for December 2015. Total passenger movements for December were 87,097, and 508,808 for the six months from July to December, the highest ever figure recorded by the Airport, continuing two years of international and domestic arrivals growth.
The record Sunshine Coast Airport figures for 2015 were a result of increases in flights by Jetstar, Virgin and Air New Zealand, and the return of Qantas after an absence of ten years.
Qantas has recorded near-capacity loads during its summer schedule, and will revert to a business-oriented timetable in February, which will see flights arrive on the Sunshine Coast in the evening and depart first thing the next morning.
The new flights will be of particular benefit to the business travel sector, as the region undergoes its most dramatic development phase since the Sunshine Coast came into being almost 50 years ago.
It was in 1966 that the former Landsborough, Maroochy and Noosa councils agreed that the name ‘Sunshine Coast’ should replace the (rather uninspiring) ‘Near North Coast’ title used at the time. The Sunshine Coast name was officially gazetted the following year (1967), and helped establish the region as one of Australia’s most popular coastal resort destinations.
The region has constantly evolved, and on the eve of its 50th anniversary, the Sunshine Coast is undergoing a development boom that confirms the region’s reputation as a dynamic, multi-faceted destination.
Four major projects are set to have long-term implications for the future expansion of the region:
- Construction of the Sunshine Coast University Hospital and the associated Kawana Health Campus, which are due for completion this year?
- Redevelopment of the Maroochydore city centre;
- Proposed expansion of Sunshine Coast Airport?
- Development of the residential area of Aura (formerly known as Caloundra South).
“These key projects will redefine the Sunshine Coast’s economic landscape,” says Visit Sunshine Coast CEO, Simon Ambrose.
“The Sunshine Coast has always had a magnificent climate and some of Australia’s best beaches, but a really successful region offers a balanced mix of commercial, residential and tourism development and that is what we are seeing across the Sunshine Coast.
“This is already resulting in considerable interest from major hotel groups, with the opening late last year of the new Best Western Plus hotel to service the emerging Kawana business, medical and education precinct.
“In addition, existing resorts such as the Novotel Twin Waters Resort are planning major expansion of their facilities, while the rebranding of Pelican Waters Resort to Sebel has added more internationally-branded accommodation and meeting facilities.
“One of the most significant new accommodation openings in Australia in 2016 will be the launch of the Riverside Resort ‘glamping’ village. It will be the first new built camping and caravan holiday park in south-east Queensland for over 40 years, and one of the first in Australia for many decades. While also catering for the family market, it will offer 80 square metre ‘glamping’ accommodation, along with high-class recreational, meeting and incentive facilities.
“One of our principal local destinations, Maroochydore, is planning a remarkable makeover with 165,000 sqm of commercial space to be established, which will create a new central business district for the Sunshine Coast region. With its proximity to Sunshine Coast Airport and its picturesque surroundings, we expect to see new hotel developments and facilities to cater for the business events market.
“We are confident of approval for an extension of the Sunshine Coast Airport runway during the year, as it will allow larger aircraft with greater capacity to operate into and out of Sunshine Coast Airport throughout the year.
“Diversity sets the Sunshine Coast apart from most other east coast beachside locations. The Sunshine Coast now complements its beaches with exceptional nature, food, wellness and art attractions, and a dynamic events calendar.
“There is a full calendar of events scheduled for 2016, and we are celebrating the range and diversity of our events program under the new tagline The World is Coming to the Sunshine Coast, starting this weekend with the Ginger Flower & Food Festival. Major festivals announced for the year include the Queensland Garden Expo, Caloundra Music Festival, Maroochy Music and Visual Arts Festival, Wanderlust, a new-format Noosa Food & Wine Festival and three world events never held before on the Sunshine Coast.
“2016 will also see a record cruise market, with Mooloolaba establishing itself as the fastest growing destination in Australia for major cruise operators including Carnival and Azamara.
“We start 2016 in a very positive frame of mind. In December we changed the name of the organisation from Sunshine Coast Destination to Visit Sunshine Coast to align our consumer and trade profiles, and with an innovative digital strategy, along with a range of exciting marketing programs, we are confident of another highly successful year.”