Jason Dougherty

Tourism bid a bit rich

A KEY player in the Sunshine Coast accommodation industry has attacked Tourism Australia for backing the wrong horse in its new marketing campaign.

Garry McKenzie heads Dreamtime Resorts, the company that manages Osprey Apartments, Nautilus Resort and Landmark Resort in Mooloolaba, M1 Resort in Maroochydore and the Rolling Surf Resort on King's Beach.

He said a plan by Tourism Australia to keep its crosshairs on what he called "rich and trendy" visitors was putting livelihoods at risk.

Instead, it should be targeting families, he said.

"Tourism Australia speaks of the 'high-yield traveller' but sidesteps the reality that wealthy travellers pay for and expect the absolute best in everything," Mr McKenzie said.

"In many cases, they regard visiting certain countries like fashion accessories.

"It only takes a fashion change and the rich market will abandon Australia for somewhere else.

"Tourism Australia needs to recognise that the mum, dad and the kids' market is forever and not ignore them."

The campaign by the peak tourism body is to lure "experience seekers" to Australia with the promise of adventure.

It describes them as "long haul travellers who are less affected by the traditional barriers to travel of distance, time and cost".

But Mr McKenzie said the campaign risked painting areas, including the Coast, as being too expensive for visitors.

"Tourism Australia needs to make sure that in chasing the wealthy traveller it does not portray the Sunshine Coast as a place out of the price range for our family market."

Sunshine Coast Destination boss Steve Cooper conceded the "drive market" was our most crucial but said the key was to create a balanced campaign that encouraged new travellers while keeping our regular visitors coming back.

"There's no doubt the drive market is the core opportunity for the Sunshine Coast," Mr Cooper said.

"It accounts for just over 48% of the visitation at the moment.

"But it would be foolish to tie yourself to one market only."

He said with the world economy still struggling, any international travellers would be a challenge but wealthier adventurers may still consider coming.

"We wouldn't want Tourism Australia giving any market area away in a fiercely contested market.

"We have to stay in the game, but we need to do so with balance."