THE sandy shores along Caloundra, Mooloolaba and Noosa are looking more attractive than the umbrella-riddled Phuket and palm tree-lined Hawaii to Aussie travellers at the moment.
There was a glow about accommodation houses, cafes and attractions yesterday as they wrapped up a bumper start to the school holidays with record numbers of visitors who have rediscovered the Coast as a holiday destination.
Caloundra Chamber of Commerce Tourism and Events chair Bill Darby said forward-bookings for these school holidays were the highest he had seen for "many years" and the great weather meant "gaps were quickly filling up".
"We attribute the favourable Australian dollar to the fact that so many more interstate visitors from New South Wales and Victoria in particular are choosing to come to Queensland as opposed to destinations like Bali, Hawaii, Fiji and Thailand," he said.
"We are a tropical beach destination if you are a Victorian and if the value for money isn't there for those (international) destinations, we become very attractive.
"That significant change in the market has also been compounded by the Brisbane market, which is usually 80% of our drive market, who are also choosing us as a destination and not looking further afield."
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Mr Darby said the big winners were the cafes and restaurants.
"There is an old saying in tourism that people travel on their tummies," he said.
"You will remember a positive dining experience over just about anything and this is a good opportunity, while we are having good weather, for these businesses to put their best foot forward and showcase the best of what the Sunshine Coast has to offer.
"We are really capturing that health-conscious aspect well while other destinations are known more for their party atmosphere, but we are really nailing it and that is giving us a good reputation."
Bellingham Maze manager Matt Murphy said they had seen more than 250 people through the attraction in the past two days.
"The sun has been shining and people are coming out in droves," he said.
Hard Coffee owner Shane Newton said the Hastings St cafe had been "flat-out" since Friday.
"The whole street is bustling and the beach is packed," he said.
"Everyone has got a smile on their face because it's so sunny."
Sunshine Coast Destination CEO Simon Ambrose said the low Australian dollar had seen both a national and international growth in tourism numbers.
"The beaches are amazing and the weather is great," Mr Ambrose said.
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