The unlikely events driving a tourism boom

WHERE do parents go to blow off steam after steering their kids through 12 chaotic years of schooling?

The Sunshine Coast is certainly a favourite, according to the region’s tourism boss.

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Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Simon Latchford said the ‘Rulies’ were flocking to the region to unwind as their graduating children ramped up celebrations, usually on the Gold Coast’s glitter strip.

Mr Latchford said the lure of our beaches, exploring the hinterland and experiencing some pampering and relaxation was bringing parents in their droves.

The resolution of the same-sex marriage issue in favour of equality was also a positive outcome for the region, which once boasted an extremely strong pink dollar, particularly in Noosa, which became a hot spot for post-Mardi Gras relaxations.

The health and wellbeing market was also bringing another niche group of tourists to the area, as people used the region as a base to recover and rehabilitate from physical and mental ailments.

Mr Latchford said the climate and the untouched nature of much of the Coast was bringing those looking to recuperate in peace to our postcodes.

A booming sports travel market was also working wonders for the local economy, with everything from elite sporting team pre-season trips to triathlons, lifesaving and pre-Commonwealth Games camps attracting sports fanatics.

“We’ve got an awesome product to sell,” Mr Latchford said.

He said the success of the Sunshine Coast Lightning had also opened the region up to a new market, with mums, often the decision makers in the family, following the fortunes of the team and the region closely.

Mr Latchford said the international diversity in the team was another great selling tool for the Sunshine Coast, as international netball fans cast their eyes to the Coast.

But the future of our tourism looks healthy in other areas too.

Foodies look set to graze across our region for decades to come, with the industry on the cusp of a revolution.

The rise of breweries, microbreweries and the hospitality scene had the region ripe for a renaissance for those who travel to treat the palate.

“It’s probably as exciting as I’ve ever seen it,” Mr Latchford said.

From heavy hitters like The Spirit House, to the cafe culture growing ever stronger to the seafood and revitalisation of The Wharf at Mooloolaba, Mr Latchford said there was plenty to attract food lovers.

“It’s just wonderful to see,” he said.

Sunshine Coast Craft Beer Tours owner Josh Donohoe said he was taking a diverse group of people around the region’s best brewhouses.

Weekend and daytrippers were prominent from Brisbane, but Mr Donohoe said he was also taking advance bookings from as far afield as Germany, the UK, Japan and New Zealand.

“Beer’s pretty universal,” he said.

The tour business started 16 months ago and was now expanding into Noosa, where Mr Donohoe hoped to tap further into the international visitor market.

Mr Latchford expected food exports out of the expanded Sunshine Coast Airport would also place the region on the map of international foodies, as they tasted more of the region’s fares.

Mr Latchford said the rise of Hong Kong and Singapore-based travellers in the hinterland, particularly Montville, had also been encouraging.

He said feedback from them was the combination of space, less crowds and the untouched nature of the area were the main drawcards.

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