The Sunshine Coast recorded a 9.4 per cent growth in international visitors this year, the largest growth rate of any Queensland region according to the latest International Visitor Survey.

This compared with growth of 3.2 per cent in international visitors to Tourism North Queensland and 2.1 per cent for the Gold Coast.

The growth in visitor numbers – a total of 245,000 – is complemented by a 12 per cent increase in nights stayed by international visitors.

The significant recovery in both international and domestic visitor numbers was a key message of the Sunshine Coast Destination Ltd (SCDL) Annual General Meeting, held earlier this month, with Board chairman, Grant Hunt, declaring that the destination was firmly back on track and well placed to continue growing visitation to the region.

The 2013-14 financial year saw the appointment of Mr Hunt as new Chairman of SCDL, with Simon Ambrose taking over as chief executive officer.

During the AGM, Mr Hunt delivered SCDL’s Annual Report, which outlined a number of initiatives that had improved the organisation’s financial position, with SCDL recording a moderate surplus in 2013-14, compared to a deficit in 2012-13, following a major review of costs.

During the year, SCDL also attracted major contestable funding grants from Tourism & Events Queensland for three projects that are currently in final planning stages.

Mr Hunt said that major changes to the organisation were already contributing to the region’s tourism performance, with domestic overnight visitation in 2013-14 growing 5.2 per cent to 2.8 million, while day trippers grew by 9.7 per cent  to 5.4 million. Total domestic expenditure reached $2.3 billion for the year.

“During 2013-14, the Australian domestic tourism market was still suffering from a combination of a relatively high Australian dollar and depressed economic conditions, so it was highly impressive that the region was able to record such positive figures during the year,” said Mr Hunt.

“Other regions in Queensland had access to vastly greater marketing and advertising budgets but we were able to outperform them, which reflects the strength of our team and the growing public perception that the Sunshine Coast offers a remarkably diverse and desirable range of attractions that go well beyond our beaches.

“That perception will have grown further as a result of the Sunshine Coast hosting DestinationQ and other major trade events, which have put the spotlight on the region’s ability to handle world-class conferences and events.”

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