Growing garden expo in full bloom
TOURISM on the Sunshine Coast may have plummeted due to the strong Australian dollar in recent times but the Queensland Garden Expo is among the big-name events helping to draw visitors to the region.
Sunshine Coast Council event and tourism manager David Hopper said the global recession had put a weight on the tourism industry on the Sunshine Coast because the region did not have natural resources to rely on.
"If you take away the mining resource, then a lot of Australia relies on tourism," he said.
"With the uncertainty of world economy generally, the Australian economy is under pressure for a lot of areas."
Mr Hopper said the strong Australian dollar was deterring many possible visitors to the region.
"The strengthening of the Australian dollar is beginning to hurt the economic side of tourism," he said.
Sunshine Coast councillor Tim Dwyer said events such as the Queensland Garden Expo were important in building the Coast tourism industry. The expo is on next weekend, July 7, 8 and 9.
"Events play a vital role in the economy of the Coast and we need more of them," he said.
"The garden expo has grown in strength and reputation, and continues to bring money into the region.
"As with all events, securing overnight stays and the subsequent spend into our local businesses is important."
The Queensland Garden Expo is a home-grown event that has attracted thousands of visitors to the region for the past 28 years.
Event manager Marion Beazley said the expo's dedicated visitor base continued to return every year.
"There are about 30,000 (visitors) and they come from all over Queensland, interstate and some New Zealanders," she said.
"The economic impact is conservatively about $9-11million to the region.
"The impact of those people staying, eating and visiting other attractions during that period is huge."
Ms Beazley said the event had grown 6-8% in numbers over the years.
"(It is) now considered to be the biggest gardening event in Queensland and the third biggest in Australia," she said.
"Our big drawcard is that we're in July and we're in Queensland.
"Feedback from visitors is as good or better than it has been in past years."
Cr Dwyer (pictured right) said events continued to support the Coast in many ways other than tourism.
"Our accommodation, retail and hospitality business sectors in particular, depend on events to supplement their day-to-day local business and take the seasonality out of the regional economy," he said.
Mr Hopper said events created the "knock-on effect" as visitors fuelled other areas of the economy such as retail and business.
"Events not only bring people into the region but they use our accommodation and boost the retail sector," he said.
"One of the greatest attributes is events around the Sunshine Coast."
Mr Hopper said prominent Coast events over the year included the Noosa and Mooloolaba triathlons and the Australian PGA golf tournament at Palmer Coolum Resort which attracted many international visitors.
"One of our successes is keeping our visitors and participants coming," he said.