2016: Year of the Sunshine Coast
BUSINESS, sport and families will be asked to support a record year of economic activity in 2016 by declaring it the Year of the Sunshine Coast.
The weekend's Sunshine Coast Marathon was an example of the events Sunshine Coast Council tourism and major events portfolio head Jason O'Pray hopes will deliver flow- on benefits to carry the region through to the end of the decade.
And 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the use of the term Sunshine Coast and the 100th year of surf lifesaving here.
It is also the year the region will host the 70.3 World Half Ironman triathlon, the Aust
ralian Surf Life Saving Titles and the world outrigging championships.
Council is also on the verge of signing another significant, high-participation event for November 2016.
The region already derives in excess of $100 million in economic benefit from big events, many which council sponsors.
Cr O'Pray challenged all sporting organisations to push to have their district and regional championships on the Sunshine Coast in 2016.
It's a challenge he's thrown down to Sunshine Coast Destinations Ltd to secure record bookings, the airport to lift passenger numbers and the university to deliver its highest enrolment of domestic and international students.
Media partners will be asked to come on board in the manner of the Daily's successful Town Proud campaign.
And families will be encouraged to invite relatives and friends to the region to showcase the best we have to offer.
"Invite family to visit, host something, hold a reunion or get people here for Christmas,'' Cr O'Pray said.
"Events generate an enormous amount of economic activity that flows through to every business on the Sunshine Coast.
"Small business employs half the Sunshine Coast's workforce and it has struggled. I want 2016 to deliver small business its singular biggest year of trade."
He said for the concept to succeed, business, sport and community groups needed to start planning now how they can contribute.
"This could be our moment in the sun," he said.
"Sunshine Coast Events Plus is a council initiative that offers small business tips and advice on how to capitalise on events. We saw last year business in Caloundra missed the full benefit of Tough Mudder, with many closed early over that weekend.
"I've been in small business. I know how tough it is. The flow-on from a year that places significant focus on sporting and cultural events would be massive.
"You only need to look at legacy achieved by cities that host Olympics and Commonwealth Games."
He urged all events to get "2016-ready", saying the base for a successful 12-months was already in place through events like the Mooloolaba Triathlon, the Sunshine Coast Marathon, the Noosa Food and Wine Festival, the Real Food Festival, the Garden Expo and the Winter Bowls Carnival, which was the region's longest-running sporting event.
Cr O'Pray said he had bitten the bullet and raised the tourism levy to boost council's capacity to sponsor events.
"All groups came on board," he said.
"There was not one complaint. If the benefit is there, business will pay. But everyone is connected to people who earn money from tourism."
He said it was not restricted to businesses that served food or rented accommodation, but also the full range of activity that supported the tourism interface.