Rapid rail fast track to tourism boom
A RAPID rail network would be a game-changer in boosting tourism for southeast Queensland, new research shows.
Better transport links across the region is the biggest single factor in driving future demand among domestic visitors, according to surveys conducted for Tourism and Events Queensland.
The research found that interstate holiday-makers would be 51 per cent more likely to visit attractions in Brisbane, the Gold and Sunshine Coasts during a vacation if they were able to travel easily and quickly between them on public transport.
That jumped to 68 per cent among visitors from other parts of the Sunshine State.
"This research shows that visitors to southeast Queensland are looking for a fast and efficient way to explore our region," Brisbane Lord Mayor and SEQ Council of Mayors chairman Graham Quirk said.
"If stronger regional connectivity has the potential to supercharge our tourism industry, then a southeast Queensland faster rail network is a win-win for commuters as well as our economy and deserves close consideration from all levels of government."
The Council of Mayors last week unveiled a proposal for a faster rail network, connecting Brisbane to the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast or Toowoomba in less than 45 minutes as part of a $70 billion congestion-busting package including other new roads and public transport.
Transport experts estimate the rapid rail network would cost at about $15 billion.
"Being able to travel quickly an enjoyably around SEQ is critical to Queensland's future competitiveness," said Matt Bekier, managing director and CEO of The Star Entertainment Group which is developing multi-billion resort precincts at Queen's Wharf in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast.
The Courier-Mail's Future SEQ series is looking at the infrastructure and other needs of the region over the next 25 years and will deliver an action plan of practical ideas. The series culminates in a major event addressed by leading demographer Bernard Salt and infrastructure leaders on October 23.
The Tourism and Event Queensland research has highlighted the potential to boost the value of international tourism to the state's southeast corner by more than $20 billion over the next decade or so by more strategically marketing the region's attractions as a package rather than individual destinations.
By harnessing "the collective power" of Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast, the region could attract more overseas visitors, encourage them to stay longer and spend more - clawing back market share lost over recent years to Sydney and Melbourne.
Overseas tourists spent $3.7 billion in southeast Queensland last year. That would rise to $7.9 billion in 2030 if current market share is maintained.
But surveys by leading tourism consultants BDA Marketing Planning among hundreds of possible travellers in five key markets - China, India, USA, UK and New Zealand - found a "latent" potential which, if exploited, could push that up by $1.7 billion a year.
That would generate an extra $16 billion between now and 2030. The figure was based on existing attractions and industry figures believe the real benefit would be at least $20 billion and up to $30 billion with the addition of Queen's Wharf and other venues such as the proposed Brisbane Live entertainment arena and precinct.
"This shows that when we get the key destination - Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunshine collaborating in key markets, it has the potential to make a huge impact," TEQ chief executive Leanne Coddington said.
"This is not about rebranding SEQ, this is about playing to our strengths in a targeted way that cuts through to consumers.
"Nature and wildlife experiences and aquatic experiences have appeal across all markets," Ms Coddington said.
The research showed attractions which most appealed to international markets included bushwalking and waterfalls, river and everglade cruises, whale encounters and local produce as well as theme parks and South Bank.
Mr Bekier said the study "recognises that, unless we change the way we go about taking SEQ to international tourism markets, we will continue to lose share".
Victoria has overtaken Queensland as the second most important destination for international tourists, with just one in three visitors to Australia holidaying in the state last year.
"Queensland has a chance to really change the game," Mr Bekier said. "And it needs to take it."
TEQ will talk to local tourism organisations later this week about future strategies.
Brisbane marketing CEO Brett Fraser said there was "an unprecedented opportunity to capture the growing international visitor market … within a two-hour commute from Brisbane."
Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Simon Latchford said: "To go to that next level, there is all the more reason to pool resources where appropriate so we can offer all these experiences to people."
MOST APPEALING EXPERIENCES
1. Bushwalking, waterfalls and village
2. Driving through Glass House Mountains
3. Gold Coast theme parks
4. South Bank cafes and restaurants
5. Wildlife & marine life encounters
6. River cruise with Brisbane history
7. South Bank beach
8. Sunshine Coast everglades
9. Scenic Rim local produce
10. Surfers Paradise
11. Swim with humpback whales
12. Eumundi market
13. Queen St Mall shopping
14. Hastings St, Noosa
15. Paddock to plate, Maleny/Montville
16. Stand-up paddle boarding
17. Brisbane River kayak tour
18. Surfing/learn to surf, Gold Coast
Source: BDA surveys of potential travellers in China, India, USA, UK and New Zealand