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Having our Visit Sunshine Coast volunteers hand-out recyclable shopping bags to visitors arriving at the Airport may seem a relatively small gesture in the wake of the plastic bag ban, but it actually speaks volumes about the deeper roots of our local tourism industry.

Our tagline – ‘Naturally Refreshing’ – has been in place for many years now and has proved very effective in differentiating the Sunshine Coast from many competing coastal destinations around Australia.

While the blue of our coast and the gold of our beaches are pretty strong marketing points, we complement that with a similarly strong emphasis on the green of our Hinterland areas.

After all, the Glass House Mountains, Hinterland and Mary Valley play such a crucial role in highlighting to visitors that they can expect “something extra” when they visit the Sunshine Coast.

The verdant green inland proves a haven for both adventure-seekers and the less-adventurous who just love to indulge in the historic villages, lush countryside and the remarkable range of produce that makes the Sunshine Coast such a multi-faceted tourism destination.

Interestingly, the latest National Visitor Survey results showed that the biggest increase in visitors came from within Queensland, including places like the Gold Coast, and that’s because we offer a lot more than just beaches.

They might come to the Hinterland to get married, chill out in a spa retreat, cook up a storm at the Spirit House, walk one of our great trekking trails, or get involved in the arts and crafts scene.

So we have plenty of reason to be strong advocates for growing our green reputation. We have supported both the Yaroomba Westin hotel resort and the Badderam luxury hotel in Buderim because both went out of their way to incorporate best-practice environmental measures in their proposals. This clearly resonated with Council, who had to weigh up carefully the many submissions made about both projects.

The point is that you can have 5-star tourism infrastructure that will ensure the region remains competitive as a tourism destination while at the same time requiring a total dedication to environmental integrity.

It isn’t a case of having one or the other: you can have both if the commitment is there.

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