Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Matt Stoeckel has been buoyed by the reopening of Queensland’s border to visitors from greater Sydney. Picture: Lachie Millard
Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Matt Stoeckel has been buoyed by the reopening of Queensland’s border to visitors from greater Sydney. Picture: Lachie Millard

Coast tourism boss buoyed by border reopening

Tourism operators on the Coast have welcomed a much-needed boost with the reopening of the border to visitors from greater Sydney.

The eased restrictions have also been buoyed by the launch of a domestic tourism marketing blitz in New South Wales and Victoria which has resulted in hundreds of thousands of people visiting Queensland.com to book a holiday.

“It’s obviously well received and a great opportunity for operators to be looking at that market and fill some of their gaps with the NSW market,” Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Matt Stoeckel said.

Elite schools board member slammed for ‘inappropriate’ posts

Win $20,000 cash or $100 gift cards

“I think there is optimism across the destination but I would say that it’s cautious optimism.

“We’ve been here before and we do know things can get better, but things can also become uncertain as well if there’s any other outbreaks domestically.

“I’m personally optimistic that the region will remain attractive to other Australians to come and visit the Sunshine Coast because we’ve got a great track record in managing the virus up here in Queensland.”

The Queensland.com website last month attracted more than 622,000 online visitors – the highest volume of monthly visitors in more than two years.

Airline schedules show the major airlines will operate 299,000 inbound domestic seats into Queensland a week by the end of February – almost double the 150,000 seats a week scheduled during the month of November.

New Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Matt Stoeckel.
New Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Matt Stoeckel.

Mr Stoeckel praised local operators for adapting in what has been a disrupted 12 months for the industry.

“I think our industry has done well to adapt and adopt new strategies for the current period,” he said.

“When borders were shut and restrictions were in place as a destination, we were able to change tactics and focus on attracting more Queenslanders to come and visit the region.

“That’s a strategy that has paid off and we saw a 39.7 per cent increase in our intrastate visitors for year ending September 2020, as shown by Tourism Research Australia.

“However, I also need to note for the whole period, total visitor nights had decreased and of course, we lost our international market and much of our interstate market as well.

“All in all those that were fortunate to be able to switch strategies and target the intrastate Queensland market were able to mitigate a lot of the impacts that COVID-19 had on their businesses.”

Easter booking for local tourism operators remain up and down. Photo Lachie Millard
Easter booking for local tourism operators remain up and down. Photo Lachie Millard

As for the upcoming Easter period, Mr Stoeckel said it would be a mixed bag.

“It’s a lot harder than other years to really understand what the forecasts are because consumer behaviour has changed and we’ve seen a real trend where consumers are booking later and booking at the last minute,” he said.

“So some operators are reporting favourable bookings for the Easter period, whereas others are anecdotally providing us with information that the bookings haven’t yet come through.”