Crowds on Mooloolaba Beach, pre-COVID-19.
Crowds on Mooloolaba Beach, pre-COVID-19.

Coast’s record 2019 tourism numbers bittersweet

IT would normally be a time to celebrate, but the release of record-breaking tourism figures for the Sunshine Coast is bittersweet.

Tourism Research Australia has released its tourism statistics for the year ending December 31, 2019, revealing the Coast had a record four million domestic visitors: up by 11.8 per cent.

It also found 330,000 international visitors arrived on the Coast last year, and of those 251,000 were holiday-makers.

Overnight visitor expenditure for Australian travellers was $2.7 billion, up by 16.8 per cent, and was $282.6 million for international visitors.

Visit Sunshine Coast chief executive officer Simon Latchford declined to comment on the statistics.

He said while they were a great endorsement of efforts from tourism businesses across the region last year, the damage caused by the COVID-19 crisis was front-of-mind for his team.

It is expected to be a difficult road to recovery for many tourism businesses on the Coast that will lose Easter trade as tourists are told to stay home to avoid further spread of the virus.

“To be honest, while it would normally be great to welcome such figures, no one, including us at VSC, has much to celebrate at the moment,” Mr Latchford said.

“Our thoughts are with all the businesses currently doing it tough, and so rather than looking backwards, all our energies are going into developing a really inspirational new marketing campaign that will be ready for launch when travel is once again on the agenda.”