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American market the ‘star performer’ as holiday visitors stay longer on the Sunshine Coast

The latest International Visitor Survey (IVS) figures produced by Tourism Research Australia painted an optimistic figure for the Sunshine Coast, with the American market a stand-out.

Overall, the Sunshine Coast attracted 251,000 international visitors in the year ending December 2015, according to the IVS statistics released today.

The American market was up 14%, with the Sunshine Coast growing well above the national average of 9.4%. The strong performance from across the Pacific came on the back of the ‘Bindi factor’ – the success of local hero, Bindi Irwin, in the USA version of Dancing with the Stars, during which she regularly spruiked her Sunshine Coast home.

Visitor numbers from the UK market were up 3.7%, and other stand-out performances were the Scandinavia region (up by 6.9%) and France (up 44%).

New Zealand remained the Sunshine Coast’s largest international market, and there was significant growth over the 2015-16 summer period, as a result of direct Air New Zealand flights, which recorded 81% capacity levels across the season. Kiwi interest in the Sunshine Coast is expected to be sustained throughout the year with a new destination campaign launched recently and other travel trade activity underway.

The Sunshine Coast is also anticipating bumper domestic arrivals as a result of record figures at Sunshine Coast Airport.

Sunshine Coast Airport recorded 179,447 passenger numbers in Dec15/Jan16, their highest ever figures for a December/January period, and 17% increase on the same period in 2014/15.

Qantas introduced its first direct services in over a decade to Sunshine Coast Airport in December, and reported near-capacity loads, while Jetstar carried more than 65,000 passengers to Sunshine Coast Airport in December and January – a double digit increase on the previous year. Virgin also recorded 15% higher figures at Sunshine Coast Airport over the summer.

Commenting on the IVS statistics, Visit Sunshine Coast CEO, Simon Ambrose, said that the figures showed that holiday visitors to the Sunshine Coast were staying longer, which was a key component of the region’s tourism strategy.

“Holiday visitors are really extending their stays, judging by the IVS figures,” said Mr Ambrose.

“For instance, New Zealand total holiday nights are up 34% in 2015, compared to 2014. UK holiday nights are 25% higher, and Germany up 37%. This reflects our marketing strategy to present the region as being extremely diverse in terms of attractions, activities and experiences.

“The growth in US visitor numbers is encouraging as we have been promoting heavily in the USA to capitalise on the outstanding profile achieved by Bindi Irwin.

“Visit Sunshine Coast has just participated in the North America Australia Tourism Summit, the Australia Marketplace and the There’s Nothing Like Australia Retail Roadshow, and the recognition of the Sunshine Coast has been very strong.

“Overall, Sunshine Coast operators reported the best summer season in almost a decade, and we are confident these figures will be reflected in the National Visitor Survey figures in a few weeks and in the following IVS statistics in June.”

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