Two coasts go to war as funding feud erupts
A COVID-19 tourism funding feud has erupted, with the Sunshine Coast demanding a slice of the millions of dollars given to rival holiday hot spots the Gold Coast and Tropical North Queensland.
Visit Sunshine Coast and the Sunshine Coast Council have written to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk calling for $1 million in urgent funding after Destination Gold Coast and Tourism Tropical North Queensland each received $2.4 million in COVID-19 recovery cash.
Sunshine Coast civic and tourism leaders say the move puts them at a 'distinct disadvantage' and are demanding money to mount a winter marketing campaign.
They say that while the millions given to the Gold Coast and Tropical North Queensland was in recognition of the loss of their international visitors, both destinations had now 'pivoted' to focus on Queenslanders holidaying in their home state.
Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said this meant both were now 'actively competing' with his region for intrastate visitors, a traditional market.
"What we now have is a situation where the Sunshine Coast and its tourism industry are having to fight for market share with one hand tied behind their back, due to an inability to complete on a level playing field with the Gold Coast and Far North Queensland," Mayor Jamieson said.
"We understand that this is a competitive business, but as the Sunshine Coast tourism industry is attempting to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, what our region should not have to contend with is competitors whose marketing efforts have been significantly financed by the Queensland Government - our own state government."
"(The) Sunshine Coast has outstanding natural attractions. However, if our tourism industry is to have any prospect of recovery and local tourism businesses are to revitalise and begin employing local people, it is essential that Visit Sunshine Coast can compete on a level playing field with its major competitors in Far North Queensland and the Gold Coast."
Visit Sunshine Coast chairman David Ryan said with the prospect of Queensland borders remaining closed for some time, the Coast faced losing out on its traditionally strong winter trade from the southern states and New Zealand.
"The indications are that the majority of Sunshine Coast tourism businesses will lose between 90 per cent and 100 per cent of their revenues for the March quarter and even with intrastate restrictions relaxed from June 1, revenues for the June-September quarter are estimated to be less than 30 per cent of normal revenues," he said.
Mr Ryan said the Government's announcement of an extra $50 million for tourism infrastructure, plus millions more in destination funding, was welcome.
"However, the Gold Coast and Far North Queensland regional tourism organisations are in a far better position to compete for the Queensland visitor dollar and will also be well-positioned nationally for the domestic travel market when State borders reopen, thanks to the $2.4 million which they each received from the State Government," he said.
"There is a very real distortion that exists when one RTO - namely Visit Sunshine Coast - is not a beneficiary of significant State assistance to advance its destination marketing efforts."
Originally published as Two coasts go to war as funding feud erupts