THE barriers may have come down and the bikes are back on the rack, but the presence of thousands of athletes is still being felt through a multi-million-dollar injection into the region's coffers.

The annual Mooloolaba Triathlon event has grown from its humble beginnings in 1993 with little more than 600 competitors, to a three-day internationally recognised festival.

The Olympic-distance triathlon provides a course that is known and loved for its ocean swim and electric buzz as thousands of triathletes descend on Mooloolaba.

Sunshine Coast Council estimate the event is worth $11 million to the region's economy.

Mooloolaba Business and Tourism chair Peter Foran said most accommodation houses were full to the brim at the weekend- a welcomed injection during one of the quieter months of the year.

Early birds are already booking their rooms for next year's tri.

Mr Foran said the triathlon was the ultimate postcard for Mooloolaba and believed last weekend's festival and warm weather would bring back athletes for family holidays in years to come.

"Nearly all accommodation providers were booked out for at least two days and a number of bookings were for more days than that," Mr Foran said.

"Already a number of us have received bookings for next year's tri, despite USM Events not confirming the exact date yet.

"We acknowledge there is downturn for some retailers in a time like this when access is difficult, but it's all part of hosting a large event and the flow-on effects for future visitation is priceless."

The family-friendly format and atmosphere of the tri matches the branding of Mooloolaba as a holiday destination.

The 5km Twilight Run kicked things into gear on Friday when 700 runners descended on Mooloolaba Esplanade.

The event attracted some top athletes, along with passionate runners, walkers and kids.

Saturday morning it was time for the kids to show what they were made of in the Superkidz Triathlon and Mooloolaba Special Triathlon.

"With all the media coverage worldwide and athletes singing the praises of Mooloolaba and the tri, we are sure we will see the athletes coming back for their own holiday," Mr Foran said.

Sunshine Coast Council Tourism and Events chairman Jason O'Pray said events such as the Mooloolaba Triathlon were key to boosting the region's reputation as the regional events capital of Australia.

"March is a quieter month and this event is exactly what the restaurants, the cafes, the accommodation houses, all the businesses need," Cr O'Pray said.

"This is what they are telling me, that they want these events to come to town.

"In many eyes around the world we are already the triathlon capital of the world with the Caloundra and

Noosa triathlons as well as Ironman 7.0.

"When the sun is shining like it was on the weekend and we have such a great

major event like this, the triathlon really is the biggest advertisement for the Sunshine Coast.

"We hope to see the athletes back here for a holiday or to get married.

"The tourism benefits from a major event like this are huge."

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