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The word ‘visionary’ is often used, but should not be taken lightly.

The transformation of Sunshine Coast Airport is indeed ‘visionary’. It will change the face of the Sunshine Coast tourism and establish a long-term, sustainable future for both our industry and the much wider economy.

I’m sure there are many residents who recall in 1983 when the existing runway opened, allowing the first jet aircrafts to land. It helped encourage a major boom in tourism accommodation development across the region and it is no coincidence that we haven’t had a similar wave of development since then.

However, the announcement of a new runway capable of attracting direct flights from long-haul destinations in Australia, Asia and the Pacific has stimulated considerable interest in new tourism projects, including international hotels, convention centres and major attractions.

Sunshine Coast Airport has a new CEO in place, Andrew Brodie, and while barely a month into the job you can feel a real energy emerging. He came from Brisbane Airport and anyone who has witnessed the transformation of the airport into one of Australia’s most dynamic, will appreciate how fortunate we are to have attracted such talent to our region.

The evolution of Brisbane Airport has clearly had a major impact on Brisbane itself. There has been a wave of hotel development and the city now attracts a wide range of events, festivals and large conferences that it never used to.

The inauguration of the new runway at Sunshine Coast Airport at the end of 2020 will change our region profoundly – and for the better. It will happen as the new Maroochydore town centre gets underway, as new housing estates are rolled out, and as new industries establish on the Coast as a result of the deployment of the submarine communications cable.

It will also help long-established industries such as agriculture, as the new runway will enable local producers – particularly seafood and dairy – to export directly to markets across Asia Pacific. Putting Mooloolaba prawns and Woombye Cheese on the menus of fancy restaurants in Singapore, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur is some of the best advertising you can get for the region.

A number of Sunshine Coast tourism operators will be heading across to Perth next month for Australia’s largest international tourism trade expo, called Australian Tourism Exchange. The overseas travel buyers they are meeting are looking at contracts into 2020-21 and the fact that their clients will have the potential to fly direct to the Sunshine Coast will be an attractive incentive, possibly even a game changer.

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