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You’d be forgiven for mistaking last weekend for summer on the Sunshine Coast.

Blue skies and endless sunshine were paired with an influx of holidaymakers looking to explore all our region has to offer.

And the Coast delivered in spades.

In what is traditionally a quieter time for tourism we held the inaugural Curated Plate food festival, celebrating our local produce and attracting some of the world’s best chefs to the region.

From a three-day Food Fair at Cotton Tree which attracted more than 13,000 event goers to dining under the stars in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, the Coast was brought to life through food.

The festival invited locals to discover the produce in their own backyard, and encouraged visitation from key interstate and intrastate markets – including Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne – as well as New Zealand.

Internationally acclaimed chefs such as Raymond Blanc, Zaiyu Hasegawa and Sydney’s Peter Gilmore took part in the event, partnering with our local chefs and producers and providing tremendous publicity for our region.

And that’s ultimately what The Curated Plate was all about – showcasing the Sunshine Coast.

You don’t find many food events that focus on highlighting a destination, but with a series of pop-up events, The Curated Plate encouraged visitors to explore the Sunshine Coast from the Glass House Mountains in the south to the Mary Valley in the north.

It was fitting that on the same weekend we welcomed passengers on board the Pacific Explorer Cruise Ship to Mooloolaba Harbour.

What a welcome they would have received to see The Curated Plate pop-up restaurant sitting on Mooloolaba Beach.

According to Tourism Australia, food and wine is in the top five most important factors for high value travellers when choosing a holiday destination.

Hosting The Curated Plate not only attracted new visitors, but gave holiday-makers such as those on board the cruise ship reason to return.

The buzz created in Mooloolaba was mirrored in Maroochydore, where guests were invited to explore the new Maroochydore City Centre at their first People’s Day.

What a fantastic juxtaposition to have one of Australia’s best beaches hosting an inaugural food event just minutes from the opening of what will be a 21stcentury smart city.

The future is certainly looking bright for the Sunshine Coast region.

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