MOOLOOLABA Beach packed with tourists last Christmas Eve. They are the lifeblood of the regional economy.
MOOLOOLABA Beach packed with tourists last Christmas Eve. They are the lifeblood of the regional economy. John McCutcheon

25,000 reasons we should be thankful for tourists

TOURISM delivers more than $2.5 billion to the Sunshine Coast's economy annually underscoring the sector's importance as a jobs generator for the region.

Latest Regional Tourism Satellite Accounts 2015-16 data shows the sector also creates more than 17,500 direct jobs and a further 8200 indirect jobs with the combined total total representing 16.1% of the regional workforce.

Overall it also represents 14.8% of gross regional product.

Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Simon Latchford said the latest data showed intrastate overnight visitors were the biggest contributors (44.8%) to the region's tourism economy individually spending $242 a stay while day trippers (17.9%) spent $114 a visit, interstate visitors (28.5%) $250 a night and international visitors (8.8%) $123 a day.

He said accommodation ($256 million), cafes, takeaways and restaurants ($242 million) and other retail at $197 million were key contributors to the Sunshine Coast's tourism income.

Tourism Noosa chair Steve McPharlin said the industry ranked first, second, third and fourth in terms of its importance to the northern Sunshine Coast economy.

With no other significant primary or secondary industries, he said tourism occupied a considerably far greater percentage of the local economy than it did in other areas on the Sunshine Coast.

Mr McPharlin put the full-time equivalent employment by tourism in Noosa at around 11,000 people.

He said Noosa had enjoyed a "cracker" September school holiday period with NSW, Queensland and Victorian visitors spread over four weeks.

One of Australia's premium holiday locations was now looking to mid-week conferences and events to grow the pie during low and mid-season periods.

Tourism and Major Events Minister Kate Jones said Regional Tourism Satellite Accounts 2015-16 data showed the industry was continuing to make a huge economic contribution to gross regional product across Queensland.

"Last financial year, the industry generated $8.1 billion for Brisbane's local economy, $5 billion for the Gold Coast and $2.5 billion for Tropical North Queensland," Ms Jones said.

"In the Whitsundays, tourism represents more than 20% of the region's gross regional product while on the Sunshine Coast, the industry makes up nearly 15% of the gross regional product.

"It also continues to employ tens of thousands of Queenslanders, with more than 15% of people in the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Tropical North Queensland and Whitsundays' regions employed in the industry."

 In total Ms Jones said the tourism industry added $25 billion to the state's economy annually and employed 225,000 people last financial year.