Brisbane youngsters Sabella Mitchell, 10, Beau Barnes, 9, and Nash Mitchell, 9, have a splash at Cotton Tree while on holidays. Picture: Lachie Millard
Brisbane youngsters Sabella Mitchell, 10, Beau Barnes, 9, and Nash Mitchell, 9, have a splash at Cotton Tree while on holidays. Picture: Lachie Millard

Destination of choice: Coast top holiday wishlist

Nearly 840,000 visitors from inside Queensland flocked to the Sunshine Coast in a three-month period in which the region significantly outperformed rival markets, the latest tourism data has shown.

The Coast had 837,000 intrastate visitors from June 1 to September 30, compared to 599,000 for the corresponding quarter in 2019.

The figures, according to the latest National Visitor Survey and released by Tourism Research Australia, showed the Coast increased by 39.7 per cent and was the best performing region for the quarter.

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Tony Rehal from Brisbane enjoys Fathers Day at the beach with his 5-year-old daughter Kyah at Mooloolaba. Picture: Lachie Millard
Tony Rehal from Brisbane enjoys Fathers Day at the beach with his 5-year-old daughter Kyah at Mooloolaba. Picture: Lachie Millard

The September quarter results comparison showed the Gold Coast had 463,000 visitors at an increase of 4.8 per cent, Tropical North Queensland had 436,000 visitors at an increase of 8.7 per cent.

Brisbane, however, had more than 1 million intrastate visitors but the numbers were 8.2 per cent lower than 2019.

Visit Sunshine Coast believes the results came from a targeted drive market for people within 300km of the region after the most lucrative markets in NSW, Victoria and South Australia were locked out.

Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Matt Stoeckel said the policy of targeting an intrastate market had insulated the region from being the worst impacted by COVID-19.

"The second half of 2020 was dominated by uncertainty and disruptions caused by COVID-19," Mr Stoeckel said.

"With over three million residents within a 300km radius of the Sunshine Coast, the region switched its strategy and focused on targeting this significant drive market to alleviate the declines from interstate and international sources.

"Also supporting the intrastate strategy has been the launch of our new For Real branding.

"This branding was developed through research that provided insights into the desire of Australian travellers to visit destinations that offer uncrowded, natural-focused attractions, and authentic characters and experiences.

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"The National Visitor Survey statistics are a great indicator to us that this new brand is right on point."

While the September quarter results were a positive for the region, Visit Sunshine Coast acknowledged that the intrastate drive market shielded the region from a larger fall.

Overall, the region fell by 3.7 per cent for the September quarter.

There were 886,000 visitors who came to the region in the September quarter, compared to 920,000 in 2019.

While the figures are a loss, the Coast fell by far less than its other Queensland markets.

Brisbane fell by 42.7 per cent, the Gold Coast by 44.6 per cent, Townsville by 45.6 per cent and Tropical North Queensland by 31.7 per cent.

Mr Stoeckel said many operators had enjoyed a strong summer period but said there was much still to be done to help operators who were unable to pivot to cater to a drive-only market.