Coast tourism bosses issue urgent SOS after $28m blow
EXCLUSIVE: Sunshine Coast tourism has issued an SOS after it says Airbnb and a lack of 5-star accommodation cost the industry $28 million in the past year.
International visitor numbers to the region increased eight per cent to 294,000 in the 12 months to September.
But overseas visitors spent 11 per cent less in that period, dropping $28 million to $236 million.
The plummet in visitor spend was credited to a combination of reduced holiday travellers, shorter visits and increase stays in unregulated premises (up to 1800 Airbnb sites).
It has proved the catalyst for renewed calls for the construction of new, upmarket accommodation.
Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Simon Latchford and chairman David Ryan have called for expedition of a number of big-ticket projects, including Sekisui House's Yaroomba Beach proposal which includes a 5-star Westin Resort and Spa, the Badderam Eco Luxe Resort and Spa proposed in Buderim and Aria's 5-star Mooloolaba hotel, yet to be submitted.
A 5-star hotel within the new $430 million Maroochydore CBD is also being backed by the Coast's tourism bosses.
"No one is saying that there should be development at any cost," Mr Ryan said.
"We have been very clear that any hotel development must be sympathetic to the local environment, which is why we have been encouraged by some pioneering environmental and community components that have been included in the resort proposals.
"What we are urging is that people consider the bigger community picture if we are going to continue fuelling economic and jobs growth, while building the Sunshine Coast's reputation as a leader in sustainable and appropriate tourism development."
Mr Latchford highlighted the results in Brisbane, where a swathe of hotel developments had taken place.
In the past 12 months Brisbane recorded international visitor growth of only 4.6 per cent, but its international visitor expenditure increased by 11.2 per cent.
WHO VISITED US: International visitors for the year to September, 2017
- New Zealand remained the largest international market with 65,000 arrivals
- UK visitation up 7.3% to 57,000
- Germany up 24.2% to 39,000
- Scandinavian countries up 31.8% to 15,000
- Canada up 10.4% to 12,000
- US down 2.4% to 20,000
The calls for support come as community angst heats up over the Sekisui House's Yaroomba Beach proposal.
Opponents of the controversial proposal were critical of submission forms delivered by Sekisui House representatives to businesses.
Sekisui House senior development manager Evan Aldridge said the support submission form was on a downloadable Sunshine Coast Council template, and was "definitely not" an attempt to impersonate the council.
He said staff had been easily identified as Sekisui House/Yaroomba Beach representatives, and the submission form had referred to Yaroomba Beach instead of Sekisui House to be consistent with previous material.