April 20, 2022 | By Matt Stoeckel, CEO of Visit Sunshine Coast

Until just over 50 years ago our region was known rather unflatteringly as the “Near North Coast” of Brisbane because it was seen as a “flop and drop” escape for residents of the Queensland capital. But lucky for us all a few savvy property marketers thought that the “Sunshine Coast” had a better ring to it, and after some negotiations the region became known officially as the Sunshine Coast.

Fast forward to today, and we are officially the most loved destination in the world and the ideal place to hold your next business event or incentive trip.

The recent announcement by the global Tourism Sentiment Index was incredible news given this survey is based on worldwide word-of-mouth sentiment. The sentiment was based on 1.8 billion online conversations and our number one status reflects how well the Sunshine Coast is delivering on its visitor experience and is a huge endorsement of the Sunshine Coast as a premium destination.

A quiet achiever, the Sunshine Coast was also named as one of the venues for the 2032 Olympic Games. This caught many observers by surprise.

Known as a laid-back, relaxing holiday destination by most people, what many Australians hadn’t appreciated was that the Sunshine Coast has “grown up”.

Yes, the beaches remain as seductive as ever and you can be in rich tropical rainforest in the hinterland just 30 minutes after leaving Sunshine Coast Airport, but beyond the obvious beauty lies growing sophistication and a serious business side.

Just minutes from Maroochydore beach is a new city centre emerging with high-quality restaurants, plans for a convention centre and offices for an increasing number of national companies that have decided to establish their base in this little piece of heaven.

Based in the centre, we are extremely excited to welcome the latest addition with Holiday Inn Express & Suites Sunshine Coast. Due to open May 2022, it will feature 181 guest rooms and suites, rooftop pool and conference and function facilities.

Over the past year, we have been emphasising the Sunshine Coast’s nature-based experiences, along with our food, health, and wellness assets to encourage incentive groups to visit our region.  With 21 breweries (that’s more breweries per capital than anywhere else in the country) the Sunshine Coast truly is the Craft Beer Capital of Australia, and it gives yet another reason for incentive groups to come and try some of our award-winning brews.

Despite the population growth, which currently stands at 350,000 and is expected to grow to 500,000 by 2040, the overall perception of the Sunshine Coast is space. Beaches aren’t crowded, the verdant hinterland is still more populated by cows than people, and there are no less than two UNESCO declared biospheres (Noosa and the Great Sandy) on its doorstep, with the Sunshine Coast also applying for a third.

Environmental responsibility and sustainability are core principles of our region, and offerings are carefully curated to showcase the clean and green landscape.

It is that commitment which makes the Sunshine Coast a magnet for small to medium sized groups; its luxe and exclusive experiences are well suited to the top-tier level of an incentive travel program.

With new accommodation, food offerings, craft beer, attractions and events, there’s even more to love about the Sunshine Coast.