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Delegates from 65 of the Sunshine Coast’s major tourism businesses gathered for the first-ever Real Talks event to hear leaders from the aviation, accommodation and trade sectors discuss how the region’s tourism operators could best position themselves for a renaissance in travel in the year ahead.

The inaugural Real Talks event was held at The Lakehouse, and heard from a distinguished panel comprising:

  • Gareth Williamson, General Manager Aviation Business Development, Sunshine Coast Airport.
  • Fabrice Grau, Regional General Manager Brisbane, North Queensland and Northern Territory, Accor Apartments & Realty
  • Rod Carrington, General Manager Product, My Holiday Ignite Travel Group.
  • Jim Fuoco, General Manager, Network Planning & Alliances, Virgin Australia.

Emily Zinowki, Visit Sunshine Coast Trade Manager, who MC’ed the event, said that while local operators had experienced a challenging trading environment over the past 18 months, there was “sunny optimism” from both presenters and delegates.

“There are certainly great opportunities ahead for the local industry and it was tremendous that such high-level industry speakers were able to share their time and market intelligence with our operators,” said Ms Zinowki.

 Real Talks session at The Lakehouse Sunshine Coast

(from l to r): Emily Zinowki (Visit Sunshine Coast), Gareth Williamson (Sunshine Coast Airport), Fabrice Grau (Accor), Rod Carrington (My Holiday & Ignite Travel Group), Jim Fuoco (Virgin Australia)

“While no one doubts the potential road-bumps, the consensus was that there are blue skies emerging and the goal of the event was to help businesses prepare for the critical priorities ahead.

”With the prospect of outbound markets re-opening it will be important that we are on top of our game, and the panelists highlighted the need to continue exciting the domestic market with details of what’s fresh and new in their destination.

“Rebuilding consumer confidence will also be critical to rebuilding markets.

“The Sunshine Coast is well placed to rebound as soon as the market opens up again. With enhanced accessibility through the new runway at Sunshine Coast Airport, with new accommodation coming on-stream, and a wide range of nature-based experiences available, we have the ingredients to bounce back relatively quickly.”

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