Lifestyle leads to tourism and sporting success in the sun
Tourism and sport go hand in hand with the Sunshine Coast’s idyllic lifestyle.
About 9 million visitors spend more than $2.5 billion each year, with overseas tourists on average enjoying a fortnight on the coast.
The region hosts more than 30 major sporting events every year, including the iconic Mooloolaba and Noosa triathlons. Last September saw the first staging of a World Ironman Championship event, which attracted almost 10,000 competitors from around the globe.
The Sunshine Coast now boasts its first national league team: the mighty SC Lightning women’s netball team. The girls have already made their presence felt in the top flight.
More than 70,000 visitors travel to the region for internationally recognised sporting events and that is only going to increase as more national league teams eye off a potential new franchise.
Tourism, though, is the jewel in the crown. The Sunshine Coast’s natural attributes and attractions, including pristine beaches, subtropical hinterland and 300 days of sunshine are the drawcard.
Once upon a time it was the Big Pineapple. But now there are big tourism hotspots such as the internationally recognised Australia Zoo.
The “Home of the Crocodile Hunter”, the legendary Steve Irwin, who was sadly killed by a stingray, is now in the safe hands of his wife Terri Irwin, and children Bindi and Bob (pictured below).
Since Steve and Terri Irwin took over the management in 1992, Australia Zoo has won numerous local, national and international awards, including Australian and Queensland Major Tourism Attraction Awards in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2012.
The zoo covers 45 hectares and is home to 1200 native and exotic animals. The zoo employs more than 300 staff. It also houses the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, where more than 57,000 wildlife patients have been treated.
Significantly, the zoo contributes about $130 million into the local community.
Owner and operator Terri Irwin has continued Steve Irwin’s legacy since his death in 2006 and with Bindi and Bob, have become world famous wildlife warriors.
“Our award-winning Australia Zoo is proud to call the Sunshine Coast home,” Terri said.
“We have a wonderful local workforce, a strong tourism industry, and are pleased with the Sunshine Coast Council’s vision to be Australia’s most sustainable region – vibrant, green, diverse, which complements our passion for wildlife and conservation.”
The council welcomes tourism operators with open arms. It has several programs in place to help, including financial assistance to help offset various establishment costs.
The council and Sunshine Coast Destination Ltd are two major supporting bodies of the tourism industry. The region has recently developed an Industry Investment Plan to help further develop and grow the tourism industry.
With the highest number of increasing new visitor numbers in South East Queensland, the region also has a thriving business events and conference sector, which grew by 40 per cent last year.
The new Airport development means more than one million or more visitors will be flocking to the Sunshine Coast to take in the sporting extravaganza and perfect tourist offerings.