New airport to bring more people

New airport to bring more people but where will they stay?

We are achieving great things here on the Sunshine Coast and the Sunshine Coast Airport is certainly leading the way as it gears up to deliver an expanded airport and new runway in 2020.

This month they were named the Asia-Pacific Small Airport of the Year in the CAPA Asia Pacific Aviation Awards for Excellence. And it was only 12 months ago they hit the one million passenger mark so there is solid growth with much more to come.

While many of the bums on the seats will be business people, tourists still account for the majority of visitors. In fact, the Sunshine Coast recorded its highest ever domestic visitor numbers in 2016, attracting 3,394,000 arrivals which was a rise of 15.2% compared to 2015.

This is all great news for the Sunshine Coast. However, it’s now an everyday occurrence to see No Vacancy signs on every hotel, motel and apartment – and not just during key holiday periods. We simply do not have enough accommodation to now meet the demand we are experiencing during holiday and major event periods and its getting tighter at other times of the year. I am not surprised that AirBnB and are so well supported. In fact, according to AirBnB, in Queensland 343,000 guests stayed 580,000 nights and with 19,000 listings state wide they represent 1.7 per cent of the housing market.

Well planned developments that allow people to invest in the coast, and make short term accommodation available, is critical to the continued growth of the tourism and events industries here. And they need to be supported by bars, restaurants and enticing retail spaces to make it easy for our visitors who may not have access to transport.

These developments don’t have to be ocean front – but they need to be inviting urban inspired spaces that will form part of the greater CBD hub and have an energy and vibe about them. They may suit people travelling to medical conferences, students who are studying, large event guests (think product launches of big brands) and industry award guests (again think national award events). If we are building larger venues to hold bigger events then those guests need to be accommodated somewhere.

My new development Opal on First will fit this bill but others need to follow suit so that we create a well-priced product that is attractive to investors and can be used as short term accommodation. In doing so we will be able to pitch, as a region, for bigger events knowing full well, that should we get them – we will have the room to accommodate everyone.

Image credit: Sunshine Coast Airport