The Sunshine Coast Council’s visionary initiative that has been a significant economic booster has been extended till 2028. This initiative, termed as the Sunshine Coast Major Events Strategy, has proven to be an essential catalyst for local economic growth, contributing an impressive estimated $85 million of economic benefits and creating over 900 jobs in just the past fiscal year. The council members voted in unison for the extension of this plan at a regular meeting held in August 2024.
The success of this strategy has been attributed to several key factors that we will explore in this article.
The strategy includes a plethora of new initiatives, such as the creation of an “emerging events” category. This category acknowledges the dynamic nature of the events landscape and assesses emerging events based on their future growth potential, rather than just their current status.
Another crucial aspect of the strategy is the strengthening of partnerships with key regional tourism bodies including Visit Sunshine Coast and Tourism and Events Queensland. These partnerships have proven instrumental in driving the success of the strategy.
One of the strategy’s key pillars is diversification. The plan includes an increased focus on culture and lifestyle events, ensuring a balanced portfolio that attracts patrons during off-peak times, not just peak holiday seasons.
Furthermore, the strategy places a strong emphasis on regional sustainability. It aligns with Sustainable Development Goals and the Sunshine Coast Biosphere, encouraging increased adoption of sustainable practices by event organisers.
The plan also capitalises on the legacy opportunities presented by the upcoming Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and it ensures that meaningful community engagement is a part of event planning.
IDENTIFYING THE BEST FIT
One of the critical aspects of the strategy is identifying events that are the best fit for the region. According to Economic Development Portfolio Councillor Jason O’Pray, the Sunshine Coast’s unique environment and climate, combined with the community’s love for events, make it an ideal destination for hosting major events. The strategy aims to continue investing in supporting these events.
IMPACT ON TOURISM
Major events play a crucial role in positioning the Sunshine Coast as a year-round destination. They provide a fantastic opportunity to bring in visitors during non-peak times, which aids in maintaining a steady influx of tourists throughout the year. The CEO of Visit Sunshine Coast, Matt Stoeckel, has expressed anticipation about continuing to work with the Council to attract major events to the region.
The Sunshine Coast boasts an exceptional event calendar that showcases the region’s premium food, arts, sporting, and adventure strengths. These events contribute significantly towards enhancing the destination’s brand profile.
SUPPORTING LOCAL ECONOMY
In 2022-23 alone, The Sunshine Coast Events Board backed more than 75 events, leading to an estimated spend of $6.2 million on local suppliers. The strategy also includes promoting Events Connect, a dedicated platform for Sunshine Coast event suppliers. This support not only boosts the local economy but also helps in creating jobs.
The strategy has supported several successful events in the region, including:
- Queensland Garden Expo
- The Maleny Wood Expo
- Australian Wearable Art Festival
- IRONMAN 70.3 Sunshine Coast
- Sunshine Coast Marathon
- The Curated Plate
These events have not only driven local tourism and economic growth but have also positioned the Sunshine Coast as a popular destination for major events.
FUTURE OF THE STRATEGY
The Sunshine Coast Major Events Strategy was first adopted on 14 June 2018. The recent extension of the strategy till 2028 is a testament to its success and the positive impact it has had on the region’s economy.
For more information on the strategy, visit the Sunshine Coast Council’s website.