Over the weekend, there was two events held that helped promote and boost the reputation of the Sunshine Coast as a tourism destination.
The first major event was the 7 Sunshine Coast Marathon and at a glance you might just dismiss as another community sporting event. However, through working with the event organisers and partners such as Sunshine Coast Council and Tourism and Events Queensland; we have been able to leverage the event to shine the spotlight on the wider destination through hosting sporting influencers. Not only did these influential contacts participate in the race, but they also enjoyed tourism experiences in the region, shared posts with their followers and are creating links through their home running clubs and tour companies to sell packages for the 2019 event.
For example, we attracted two high profile Sydney runners Eloise Wellings and Heidi See – both with significant followings and internationally, we supported Malaysian athlete Mr Edan Syah, up and coming Singaporeans – runner Evan Chee and Dr William Tan participated as the first wheel chair athlete in the full distance marathon. For the first time, Wholetour China also sent six athletes to compete.
These initiatives all assist to create exposure and awareness in key markets for not only the annual 7 Sunshine Coast Marathon event but the Sunshine Coast as an attractive tourism destination for athletes to combine event participation with a holiday.
I was fortunate enough to attend the second event with Sunshine Coast Lightning winning the preliminary final over the Giants in Sydney. For anyone who has attended or tuned into a game this season would have felt the power and the passion that these incredibly talented women bring to the sport as well as their fans and local community; as they blaze a trail across the court before a massive national audience, week in and week out.
Lightning is much more than a sporting team, they’re a national billboard for what makes the Sunshine Coast such a dynamic and attractive destination. Equally impressive is the fact that they are just as good as ‘ambassadors’ off the court as they are on it. As the team and their support staff travel around the country, they not only share their enthusiasm for the sport but also spruik their new ‘Sunshine Coast home’ – in front of both packed houses and via national coverage; leaving people with an indelible memory of the Sunshine Coast.
Building on our narrative that the Sunshine Coast is a place where health, fitness and sport blend naturally with the landscape, we have been able to create video content with VSC ambassadors – Geva Mentor and Caitlin Bassett, promoting their favourite Sunshine Coast experiences. This type of promotion along with logos on dresses to courtside fascia’s; has allowed us to capitalise on the partnership and promote the region with destination advertising – digitally, on television and live at games in our key markets.
The stirring impact of Lightning over the past two years is a testament to Sunshine Coast Council’s very far-sighted view and this alliance provides a big boost for Sunshine Coast’s reputation as a premium destination for events and tourism.
Lightning will face West Coast Fever in Perth next Sunday in the grand final with the team defending their title as the reigning Suncorp Super Netball champions.