Leading tourism operators from across Queensland are descending on the Sunshine Coast this week for the largest tourism industry gathering in the state.
For the first time, the Sunshine Coast will host three of the leading Queensland industry tourism events in the same week, starting today with the Indigenous tourism event Destination IQ, progressing through Destination Q on Thursday and Friday, and culminating in the industry's night of nights - the Queensland Tourism Awards – on Friday night.
The events are all being staged at the new Sunshine Coast Convention Centre and Novotel Sunshine Coast Resort and are expected to attract more than 900 delegates across the three days.
Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Simon Latchford said hosting the sold-out events on the Sunshine Coast was a massive coup for the region.
"We are incredibly excited to roll out the red carpet for Queensland's tourism industry," Mr Latchford said.
"Hosting these events is an opportunity to showcase to the rest of the state the quality and diversity of product we have to offer, which we believe elevates our region's status to one of Australia's leading tourism and business events destinations.
"Our tourism industry is going from strength to strength, with the Sunshine Coast delivering its highest ever international and domestic visitor numbers in the year to June 30, 2019 – and leading the State in overseas visitor growth, according to the latest figures from Tourism Research Australia.
"The $100 million acquisition of Novotel Sunshine Coast Resort by the Shakespeare Property Group last year was an incredible vote of confidence for our region, and the launch of the $10 million Sunshine Coast Convention Centre earlier this year has dramatically increased our capability to host conferences and business events.
"Our future prospects are certainly looking bright, with the Sunshine Coast Airport's new international runway scheduled to open in 2020. The addition of new flights from domestic and international markets will benefit leisure travellers and make conference and event travel to the region far more attractive.
"This is complemented by the $6 million redevelopment of The Events Centre Caloundra, an extensive range of development proposals for new hotels across the region and the construction of the new Maroochydore CBD."
Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson said that the Sunshine Coast is the ideal location for hosting this signature suite of tourism industry events, given the region's compelling tourism offer and outstanding lifestyle and environmental credentials.
"Our Sunshine Coast is certainly putting out the welcome mat this week to the Queensland tourism industry and demonstrating why our region is performing so strongly in terms of visitor numbers," Mayor Jamieson said.
"This region offers such a diverse array of experiences from the coastal areas to our pristine hinterland – offering something that is sure to appeal to everyone.
"We are also leading the way in Queensland as a region that is driving transformational projects like the expansion of the Sunshine Coast Airport, the delivery of a new city centre in Maroochydore, an international broadband submarine cable network and seeking a UNESCO Biosphere designation – all of which provide a significant platform for growing our tourism offer.
"Importantly, these events provide an opportunity for the sharing of ideas and establishing new connections so that the tourism industry collectively, can benefit from coming together in these forums".
Destination IQ, formerly the Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) Indigenous Tourism and Employment Forum, will be held on Wednesday, 6 November and will bring together business leaders, employers, government representatives, tourism organisations, native title holders and community organisations to discuss important issues, opportunities and strategies for supporting First Nations tourism and employment across the state.
QTIC Chief Executive Daniel Gschwind, said: "It is great to have a destination like Sunshine Coast to come together for the purpose of Indigenous tourism. We have a great assembly from across the state to not only enjoy this great destination but to engage in genuine discussion and engagement for the future of how we can develop this great state with an Indigenous perspective.
"It is a buildup of events all throughout the week with the Queensland Tourism Awards on Friday where we will have over 900 people from across the state celebrating the best of the best and what better way to host the event then on the Sunshine Coast to highlight the quality, the depth of product and the professionalism of the industry. We are really pleased to be here, and everybody is having a good time already."
Destination IQ will be followed by Destination Q on Thursday and Friday, that will this year focus on the theme 'Tourism Beyond 2020 – Innovating for the Future' inviting industry to connect, collaborate and work together to strengthen Queensland's tourism industry.
The Queensland Tourism Awards Gala Ceremony – the industry's night of nights - will conclude the week on Friday, celebrating the achievements of tourism operators across the state.