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Strong growth from New Zealand, the UK, USA, Asia and Europe has helped the Sunshine Coast produce a bumper result in the latest International Visitor Survey (IVS).

Tourism Research Australia, which compiles the figures for the IVS, estimated that 309,000 overseas travellers visited the Sunshine Coast in the 12 months ending March 2019, an increase of 0.9%. Holiday visitors grew at an even faster rate, recording 1.6% growth.

The surge in visitors produced record expenditure of $277.2m, 20.5% higher than the previous year.

The record result was generated from growth in inbound visitors from the Sunshine Coast’s three largest international markets: 5.9% growth from New Zealand (to 70,000 for the year); 6.2% growth from the UK to 62,000, and 13.2% growth (to 25,000) from USA. Europe and Asia posted solid gains as well.

Large-scale campaigns in New Zealand and the UK (centred around last year’s Commonwealth Games) generated extra demand, while a campaign leveraging the high-profile of the Irwin family and Australia Zoo in the American market helped deliver the record USA visitor numbers.

Commenting on the international results, Visit Sunshine Coast CEO, Simon Latchford, said that strategic campaigns in key inbound markets had paid high dividends.

“The significant increase in expenditure – 20.5 per cent growth for the year – reflects our strategy of targeting markets that produce higher-yielding travellers who are more likely to spend big on tours, experiences, restaurants and activities,” said Mr Latchford.

“The figures don’t take into account the start of the new direct Qantas service from Sydney to Sunshine Coast Airport in May, which is ideally timed to connect with incoming flights from Europe, America and Asia. The benefits of this seamless travel will show up in the IVS figures later in the year, and there was also news of Qantas adding two new direct international flights from San Francisco and Chicago to Brisbane Airport, which should provide further stimulus in the North American market.

“Working with internationally recognised figures like the Irwins has provided us with incredible profile for the region, and we have also benefited greatly from partnerships with Tourism and Events Queensland and Tourism Australia to deliver the Sunshine Coast message to both established markets such as New Zealand, Europe and the UK, and emerging markets like south-east Asia.

“Achieving such positive results in the international market highlights the foresight behind the expansion of Sunshine Coast Airport. There is clearly a tourism appetite for our region, and the launch of the new runway next year will provide opportunities to attract additional services from across the Tasman and, in the longer-term, from Asia as the Sunshine Coast builds its profile in these markets.

“Next month we will welcome the return of seasonal international flights from Auckland, and we are hopeful that once the new runway is in place that we will be able to attract permanent services from Auckland and other major population centres across New Zealand.”


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