I enjoyed meeting the committee and members at the recent Coolum Business & Tourism candidate forum which was a well run and well attended event.
In my comments at the forum I noted that 15,000 small to medium businesses had closed their doors in the last 4 years. I also noted small business entries and exits with 1-4 employees for 2018-2019 saw almost 1500 business entries and almost 1000 exits – our bread and butter is thinly spread.
As this was an informed audience interested in business and tourism related ventures, I spoke to what I perceived as a gap in our market offerings.
I suggested we band the wagons around and protect our caravan parks and camping grounds, and our 4 star offerings. We are known as a ‘family flop’ destination and these families are the bread and butter of our tourism hot spots.
I’m part of a family, and when we holiday we spend a lot of our money in the immediate vicinity of our accommodation, and we spend a small fortune in local business on fish and chips, ice creams, bread and pastries from the local bakery, sun cream and flip flops from the local chemists. All money well spent.
People I speak to are concerned about a looming recession, the property market, and global externalities that impact businesses everywhere. We are currently seeing ‘a sea of red’ in global financial markets owing to Corona for example.
During the GFC there were two industries not impacted by this type of economic disarray – luxury and weddings.
We have not secured these niche markets here on the Sunshine Coast, yet we have all the offerings on a platter.
We need to package ourselves up as a global wedding destination – the average Australian wedding is $50,000, and we should want brides and grooms and their families to spend it here. We have mountains and rivers, lakes and open spaces, waterfalls, coastlines and magnificent locations such as Point Perry – currently there is no streamlining or coordination with venues, planners and other stakeholders. When two people get married, two families get married and travel from all corners to celebrate and to holiday – it’s a no brainer – let’s give them a reason to do it here!
We do not have any 5 star offerings on the Sunshine Coast. This clientele will fly into our SC rate payer funded airport and go straight to the Noosa Shire.
But even Noosa has missed the mark on a high end 6 star clientele. Do we know where Justin Bieber stayed when he was here? Richard Branson’s island in Noosa – because there is simply no offering for this market.
The Sunshine Coast and Division 8 has potential for spectacular 6 star eco-luxe locations and offerings. Development Watch, in response to Sekisui’s proposal produced an ‘alternate use’ for the site based on Elements of Byron Bay, a 5 star eco-luxe resort – it made the Forbes list top 50 hotels in the world, the only one in Australia. This has put Byron Bay on the world stage to capture this market that can withstand economic turbulence.
This type of low impact development would be supported by the community, the planning scheme and this niche market gap.
I agree that an intensive urban development and a 4 star Westin does not do that site, or our region justice.
WELLNESS & SLOW FOOD
Particularly ‘slow and small luxury’ – this falls in line with the billion dollar and growing ‘wellness & organics’ industry.
We are seeing gin and whiskey distilleries popping up in the hinterland, craft breweries, our gorgeous cheese makers, Mooloolaba prawns, cooking schools – packaged tours to these venues is in order, showcasing our slow and artisan produce should be high on the list of packaging up all that we have to offer visitors and consequently supports our airport freight and aviation industry.
Some argue suits spend more than board shorts – even if that is true, money in the local economy, wherever it comes from, should be invited and nurtured.
PEOPLE HAVE BEEN SAYING FOR DECADES “WE DON’T WANT THE GOLD COAST HERE” – I’M SUGGESTING WE CAN DO “BETTER THAN THE GOLD COAST HERE”.