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The tourism sector is one of the Sunshine Coast’s key economic drivers. It could probably be said that it was a tourism advertisement of one kind or another that introduced most of us to the existence of the Coast in the first place. Tourism has fashioned our beachfront communities and given rise to the establishment of many other successful industries. While tourism is essential to the future prosperity and diversity of the region, several changes in the funding of destination marketing have many in the industry concerned. Back in 2010, when we were one happy family with Noosa, the Sunshine Coast Regional Council formed a company now known as Visit Sunshine Coast (VSC). This company was charged with the task of spending the millions generated as a result of the tourism levy that many Sunshine Coast residents pay as part of their rates. According to VSC’s current website, its role is to lead the management of tourism on the Sunshine Coast. “As the Regional Tourism Organisation (RTO), VSC is responsible for a geographical area that encompasses the Glass House Mountains in the south, to Rainbow Beach in the north…and includes three council regions — Sunshine Coast, Noosa and Gympie.” What the website fails to highlight is that VSC now only receives a tourism levy from the Sunshine Coast Council which, as we know, excludes Noosa and beyond. For the record, Noosa generates millions through its own tourism levy, used exclusively for its own promotion.


Recent publicity emanating from national and international visitor survey results describes how successful the region has been in growing its tourism economy. However, disguised in these results is the disproportional benefit that the Noosa Council region enjoys from retaining its own tourism levy. Last year, Noosa claimed a solid 36.3% growth rate with tourism expenditure reaching $940 million. This represents over 40% of the regional tourism economy, leaving only 7.5% growth for the remainder of the Coast. With the extra millions at Noosa’s disposal, none of this comes as a surprise. The united approach to destination marketing we presently enjoy is vital to our tourism economy as a whole. Yet, VSC presently delivers positive outcomes in spades. It somehow seems wrong that the tourism levies raised from Caloundra to Coolum pay the bills to promote Noosa and Gympie. Strangely, nobody seems too concerned.


Bill Darby, Caloundra’s Rumba Beach Resort

Sometimes outspoken but always frank, Bill is the co-owner of Caloundra’s Rumba Beach Resort and 26 Degrees Bar & Venue. A proud Sunshine Coaster, Bill is a regular social commentator on newsworthy regional matters. Read more of Bill’s opinions on tourism, politics and business by visiting his website

Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Matters Magazine team.

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