Andrew Stark. Future Tourism, Sunshine Coast Convention Centre. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.
Andrew Stark. Future Tourism, Sunshine Coast Convention Centre. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.

Surf ranch boss ready to make waves, literally

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TWO of the more lively figures to hit the stage at the Future Tourism event were a man looking to make waves, literally, and an outgoing tourism guru.

World Surf League Australia, Asia and Oceania general manager Andrew Stark wowed the crowd with his vision for a Kelly Slater surf ranch at Coolum, as part of a $1.1 billion broader investment.

He envisaged the facility could be used as a host venue for the 2032 Olympic Games, and added the development would feature farm to plate food and beverage offerings, as well as bars, restaurants and 3-4 star hotels.

"We hope that we're welcomed with open arms," he said.

Meanwhile outgoing Tourism Noosa CEO Steve McPharlin declared more needed to be done to showcase the region's indigenous culture.

Steve McPharlin speaks in the Q and A session Future Tourism, Sunshine Coast Convention Centre. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.
Steve McPharlin speaks in the Q and A session Future Tourism, Sunshine Coast Convention Centre. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.

"We (Noosa) couldn't be any more white if we tried, right" he said, eliciting laughter from the packed crowd.

"We need to take steps with our indigenous community to develop product."

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He said tourists were searching for nature-based, authentic experiences, and more than 73 per cent of travellers indicated they were looking for destinations with environmental credentials.

"We can't keep growing for growth's sake," Mr McPharlin said.

He called on tourism operators to make the switch to reusables, and said the organisation was committed to removing single-use bathroom amenities in Noosa.

Mr McPharlin said the 'green dollar' was a huge growth market, and demand for five-star and boutique-style product would continue to rise.

He said "everyone" was talking about sustainable destinations.

"Yes, it's a massive opportunity," Mr McPharlin said.

He also spoke of an opportunity for businesses to take up solar power, and become better environmental custodians.