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Grant Hunt has been appointed as the new Chair of Sunshine Coast Destination, as region posts 8.7% increase in visitor numbers.

A 17.6% growth in day trips in 2012-2013 saw the Sunshine Coast increase its overall visitor numbers to a record 8.9 million, an increase of 8.7% on the 2011-2012 financial year. Over AUD$2.8 billion in revenue was generated from tourism visitation in 2012-2013, an increase of 15.9%.

The results were announced at the Annual General Meeting of Sunshine Coast Destination Ltd (SCDL) last night, during which a new Chair was announced.

The highly credentialed Grant Hunt, best known for developing the Voyages Hotels and Resorts brand, will replace Barrie Adams, who has been Chair since 2012, and on the Board since 2010.

The appointment of Hunt follows two other key appointments -–new CEO Simon Ambrose (from the Margaret River Tourism Association) and new Head of Marketing, Laughlin Rigby (from the Irish Tourism Board).

Outgoing Chair, Adams, paid tribute to the SCDL team for achieving a strong result in 2012-2013, in a period of major transition in the organisation and against a backdrop of very challenging market conditions.

The 17.6% growth in day trips offset a smaller fall in overnight domestic trips, though SCDL’s “stay another night” campaign with overall domestic visitor nights growing by 2.9%. There was a 35% increase in visitor numbers from Sydney.

While leisure travel remained strong, supported by a major focus on events, the end of the mining boom in Queensland and national economic uncertainty significantly affected the business travel and conference sectors.

Internationally, the Sunshine Coast’s “naturally refreshing” tagline resonated strongly in the UK, Germany and US markets. Some growth was also recorded from China and the south-east Asian markets, though overall, falls in New Zealand visitation saw the inbound market dip in 2012-2013.

The Board concluded: “The Sunshine Coast adapted very well to the difficult market conditions, withstanding the significant effects that resulted from the decline in mining investment and its subsequent economic impact on Queensland as a whole, and Brisbane specifically.

“Subdued economic conditions and rising unemployment in Brisbane are likely to have a
continuing impact on tourism to the Sunshine Coast in the immediate future.

“However, SCDL is now well-positioned to perform strongly, with expertise in digital marketing, that includes a comprehensive online platform. The Sunshine Coast is building its reputation for events, and has established an excellent series of special-interest trails, and secured an increasing number of major conferences to the Sunshine Coast.”

Adams said: “The priority for the organisation has been to build a strong team and infrastructure to cater for the new world of travel marketing. I think we have an excellent new team in place now, and under the leadership of CEO Simon Ambrose, I am confident that the Sunshine Coast has the talent and resources to continue achieving significant increases in domestic and international visitation.”

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