The Sunshine Coast added 53,000 extra domestic visitors last year on the back of increases in airline schedules and substantially lower fuel prices, as well as a major investment in marketing and digital campaigns.
National Visitor Survey figures (NVS) released by Tourism Research Australia (TRA) today, showed a 2% increase for the region to 2.9 million visitors – an additional 53,000 domestic visitors. Overall visitor nights were up 2% to 10.9 million visitor nights (173,000 additional visitor nights) and tourism expenditure was stable at $1.8 billion for the year.
The best performing sector for the region was holiday travel, up 9% to 1.7 million visitors, and business travel was up 4% to 210,000 visitors. Holiday travellers from within Queensland grew 15%, boosted by petrol prices that dipped at times close to $1/litre, some 50% cheaper than peak prices in 2014.
Commenting on the National Visitor Survey statistics, Simon Ambrose, CEO of Visit Sunshine Coast, said that the various Sunshine Coast marketing campaigns had proven successful, and visitor numbers had benefited from greater access to the region via road and air.
“The summer season continued on from the strength of the domestic market in 2015, with perfect weather and the return of Qantas adding to the positive outlook,” said Mr Ambrose.
“The dramatic fall in petrol prices has fuelled a corresponding growth in the drive market from Brisbane and elsewhere across Queensland, with the Great Beach Drive enjoying its most popular year.
“Greater air access from Sydney and Melbourne led to record passenger movements at Sunshine Coast Airport over summer, and we expect that to continue through the year. We also have record cruise and events programs in 2016, and this will expose the Coast to many first-time visitors, who are likely to return for longer, dedicated visits in the future.
“The impact of the Sunshine Coast’s events programs can be seen in the 15% rise in visitors attracted from within Queensland, which includes a 47% rise in visitors from the ‘Southern Queensland Country’ area. Reductions of up to 50% in petrol prices during 2015 meant that people were far more willing to get in their car and visit the Sunshine Coast for an event or festival.
“A range of marketing programs involving partners such as Flight Centre, Wotif and Australia Zoo, as well as live broadcasts by national TV Shows such as Today, have really elevated the Sunshine Coast in the domestic market, and with new accommodation, attractions and events to offer, the capacity to grow visitation in 2016 and beyond looks exceptional.”