Selina Bootz and Alex Wagner
With a colossal 64% rise in domestic and 54% increase in international visitors in the past year, the Gympie Region is forging ahead in tourism.
Destination Gympie Region (DGR) is the tourism division of Council, Manager Andrew Saunders said, “From 2016-2017 and 2015 – 2016, we have the fastest growth in Queensland for international and domestic overnight stays.
“Most of that growth has been driven by our region’s jewel in the crown – Rainbow Beach.”
He says the town as a destination is firmly on the radar of the tourism industry, Tourism and Events Queensland and Tourism Australia. “They are very aware of the destination and wanting to work more with it.”
Additionally, Visit Sunshine Coast has been a greater supporter of the coast and is working very closely with DGR and the operators to promote the region.
This is no accident, but a result of investment and hard work over a number of years.
“We’ve seen this current development increase in numbers from the international market because more products are internationally ready, and therefore people like myself, DGR and other local tourism operators can attend national and international trade shows to promote the town and region.
“From these trade shows relationships with wholesale product managers are developed, discussions are held with state and national bodies and we get famils to the region.”
A famil (or a familiarisation) gives media or travel professionals the opportunity to experience a destination first hand, which promotes the whole destination. When they visit Rainbow Beach they enjoy accommodation, tours and local produce.
“Three years ago when we first started, Rainbow Beach had never had a famil. Already this year we have had 15 media and trade famils to town, with many more scheduled, and that is really driving publicity and awareness in the tourism industry – which links to visitation.”
“While it seems only some benefit from this famil – the fact is the whole town benefits. Most media and industry famils stay at a small number of operators because they have the international contracts and have developed the relationship – but discussions on these famils centre on the whole town and region which helps everyone.”
Andrew emphasises that the relationship DGR has with Visit Sunshine Coast is paramount. He says famils are coming to us because of the strength of this relationship and the product itself – our “naturally breathtaking” coast and region.
“If you want to be involved, you need to be an active member of Visit Sunshine Coast, whose role is to market the region with me.”
Andrew concludes, “I believe there is greater harmony in town. As far as the tourism industry is concerned, Rainbow Beach is flying along – it’s topping the state.”