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Caloundra has always been known for its laid-back, almost ‘retro’ tourism vibe, popular with visitors who love the region’s beautiful beaches, waterways and family-friendly activities.

But the term ‘retro’ might have to be re-thought because Caloundra is becoming decidedly ‘hip’, with its burgeoning street art scene, plans for a major new hotel complex, and exciting new bars and restaurants opening on a monthly basis.

The secret of Caloundra’s success is its commitment to constantly reinvent and update its image.

For instance, the town has always been a hub of the Sunshine Coast’s artistic scene, with the Caloundra Regional Gallery home to many of the Sunshine Coast’s most significant art exhibitions.

And to complement the ‘traditional’ art scene, Caloundra has been expanding its street art, with a dedicated self-guided street art tour now available to download, and new works popping up regularly to provide a very different aspect of Caloundra.

It’s exciting to see the makeover of the Caloundra Bus Interchange with the unveiling of the Sub Tropic Studio, with previously vacant spaces transformed into a vibrant hub of artist studios, workshops and exhibition spaces.

It certainly has created a new energy in Caloundra, and Councillor Tim Dwyer deserves particular credit for his work in building the region’s arts profile, because it has a very beneficial impact on tourism.

On the food front, it is great to see the launch of the Happy Turtle Cafe in Happy Valley, with its colourful artwork and visitor-friendly menu.

At the other end of the dining scale is the new Whispers Cocktail Bar & Lounge that is being created out of a former Bulcock Street Commonwealth Bank building, with the former safe being re-imagined appropriately as a whiskey vault. It will really energise and add diversity to Caloundra’s after-hours entertainment and dining scene.

The renaissance of Caloundra was highlighted vividly by the announcement earlier this month of a $350 million hotel, apartments, retail and dining development on Bulcock Street called Sea Caloundra.

New tourism accommodation is desperately needed in the region to cater for the record demand, and while the project is only in its infancy it reflects the confidence in the Sunshine Coast’s economic and tourism future.

And we all know that confidence breeds even more confidence.

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