Riding the wave: huge surge in Rainbow Beach visitors
IF YOU plan to take a dip at Rainbow Beach these holidays, you should plan to meet some new people too, with visitor numbers soaring at the tourist hot spot.
According to figures from Surf Life Saving Queensland, more than 212,000 set foot on the popular beach in 2016, a staggering 164% jump from from 2012's numbers.
And things are not slowing down, either, with more than 203,000 people on the beach recorded in the first nine months of this year, a trend which puts Rainbow Beach on track to host more than 275,000 by year's end.
Destination Gympie Region tourism manager Andrew Saunders said the region was reaping the reward of three years of effort to put Rainbow Beach on the world map.
Some of the results were particularly impressive, Mr Saunders said.
"We have some operators in Rainbow Beach that now, over a year, 20 per cent of their bookings are international guests," he said.
"That is quite extreme when you look at it.
"A lot of operators in Brisbane wouldn't be having those numbers of internationals."
The town was also helped by its traveller appeal.
"It's safe, it's secure, it's got nature and wildlife in abundance and it's got that coastal appeal that people think of when they think of Australia," Mr Saunders said.
And with up to half a million visitors a year expected to pass through in 2022 and beyond, challenges were popping up.
"The key for us now going forward is how we manage the success," Mr Saunders said.
"We've got to continue to plan for the future, and plan for that growth."
Part of that was finding a balance for long-time visitors.
"There are some days when people into town and go 'Oh my God this is so busy, this isn't the Rainbow Beach I remember'," he said.
"But essentially it's still the same destination and there are many times there when it is quiet."
The trick was knowing how to attract people all year round.
"A destination like Rainbow Beach is always going to busy over Easter or the school holidays.
"We just have to try and get it to be more of an even line."