The $930m Bruce Hwy upgrade and its impact on tourism
IT'S been the pillar of our tourism economy for decades but the drive market could be about to hit a roadblock of sorts in the form of the Bruce Hwy.
Demands for upgrades have been made for years and major works are imminent as part of a $930 million upgrade of the Bruce Hwy between Caloundra Rd and the Sunshine Mwy.
But there are concerns about the impact of the short-term pain that will be felt as those works are carried out on the tourism industry, particularly in the weekender, drive market, as they battle to negotiate what will be a further congested arterial road.
Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Simon Latchford was confident the Main Roads crews would ensure peak travel periods were as unaffected as possible and he said the drive market would remain crucial to the local tourism sector.
He said the continued improvement of the Sunshine Coast Airport figures would hopefully help cover any loss of drive market visitors as a result of Bruce Hwy issues.
"Obviously the drive market is and will continue to be really important for us," Mr Latchford said.
"We need to maintain the status quo but a massive amount (of business) has come out of the airport in record numbers.
"They're (Main Roads) very mindful of not causing havoc, particularly on a Friday afternoon inbound (to the Coast) and Sunday afternoon outbound."
Selwyn Lutz is a former Bundaberg/Burnett Shire councillor who has been managing Mooloolaba's Aegean Apartments for more than 11 years.
He said he'd been surprised to hear what he said had been a message to operators to shift their attention from the drive market to flying markets.
He said that was different to what they'd heard in the past and the drive market and shorter stays had always been a massive pillar of the business.
The 'two-hour' market, from Toowoomba, the Gold Coast and that radius had been crucial to his business as people were able to avoid costly airfares.
He said many had flown into the Gold Coast in the past and driven up to the Coast and he'd notice the weekend market and longer-stay business was starting to pick up over the last six months.
But many commented to him on what they thought was a two-hour drive that soon turned into a three or four-hour drive if there was traffic or crashes on the Bruce Hwy.
He wasn't sure how long people would put up with it and expressed concern at the moves to bring more short-term accommodation to the region without adequate road infrastructure.