A look into the transformative future of the Sunshine Coast

By Aleks Rakic | Consultant

Web-image_A-look-into-the-transformative-future-of-the-Sunshine-CoastThe Sunshine Coast is certainly an area of interest with a significant predicted population growth over the next couple of decades, as reported in our article surrounding the QLD population projections. This predicted population growth stems from numerous proposed changes to the region, which will have a significant impact on venues and how they operate.

Renowned Australian demographer Bernard Salt recently presented his vision of the future Sunshine Coast at a Chamber of Commerce and Industry event in Brisbane – tipping significant economic and social changes across the region within the next 25 years.

Mr Salt – a leading social commentator and Partner with global advisory firm KPMG – predicated a significant transformation of the Sunshine Coast from an enviable tourism, leisure and lifestyle destination to a thriving commercial centre levelling that of the Brisbane and Melbourne CBD in his report “The Activated City: Imagining the Sunshine Coast in 2040”.

Underpinning this transformation are major regional projects and developments which are set to provide new services, ‘state of the art’ technical infrastructure and employment opportunities throughout the area which will in turn attract a younger, more educated, entrepreneurial and tech savvy demographic. So what do these game-changing projects look like?

Maroochydore CBD

The Maroochydore city centre is the only planned greenfield CBD in Australia within an urban mass, and is being built from the ground up in the heart of Maroochydore. The centre is planned to become the business, technology, innovation, entertainment and inner-city living epicentre of the Sunshine Coast and will feature a number of commercial, communal and residential establishments.

Expansion of the Sunshine Coast Airport

The Sunshine Coast Airport of the future is predicated to include 15 new international flight connections – primarily to major Asia-Pacific cities – which is predicated to create over 2,200 jobs, boost tourism and exports, and drive demand for hospitality and leisure training, education and health tourism and services.

$1.1 billion broadband submarine cable

A new submarine cable brought ashore on the Sunshine Coast will provide faster, more reliable and affordable broadband connectivity for Queensland and link the region directly to global communications systems in Asia, the Pacific and the United States.

Light rail

The Light Rail is a proposed project between Caloundra and the airport (currently subject to further feasibility studies) that Mr Salt predicts will be approved, funded and delivered in part by 2025. The project is estimated to create over 9,000 jobs, contributing $3.6 billion into the economy.

Sunshine Coast University Hospital

The hospital – officially opened on the 19th April 2017 –  is indented to revolutionise healthcare services throughout the region, provide critical acute, convalescent and terminal care services across the Sunshine Coast and mitigate the regions reliance on Brisbane City’s health care system for complex treatments.

Sunshine Coast University

The university will be a key driver of the new economy, acting as a business incubator and providing opportunities for innovation and start-up businesses.

The result of these major game changing developments spearheading Sunshine Coast’s future is a bigger, more connected and galvanised city, driven by a younger, more innovative, tech-savvy and entrepreneurial population, mobile “footloose” businesses and second-careering baby boomers.

Mr Salt’s future Sunshine Coast is a completely independent city with a more diversified economy focusing on the areas of technology, professional services, aviation, healthcare and renewable energy. A flood of ‘footloose’ businesses – readily mobile and able to relocate thanks to technological advances – will gravitate towards the Coast, spurred by its desirable lifestyle, contemporary business environment, technology and connectivity. As a result, the future Sunshine Coast will become a leading hub and start up ecosystem for high-tech innovation and start-ups – comparable to that of Silicon Valley – and will be driven by a large number of ‘knowledge workers’, tech-savvy Millennials and young families. The increase in educated youth throughout the region will foster a ‘hipster’ culture and may have significant impacts on the tourism and hospitality industry, creating an increased demand for health, wellness and sporting offerings, more diverse and fulfilling of job opportunities and a shift in focus to sustainability – from sustainable, cruelty-free ingredients in venues and beverages carefully crafted from local breweries, to ecofriendly and energy efficient venue designs.

While the Sunshine Coast is pitted to become younger and nimbler, Mr Salt also predicts a prominent growth in the entrepreneurial sector within the Coast – a growth driven by active, second-careering baby boomers and second generation CEOs from Melbourne and Sydney wanting to put their skills and resources to use. This shift of senior entrepreneurs and active retirees to the area is predicated to connect the region’s university-educated Millennials and increase prospects and employment for the younger generations. It can also present opportunities for a growing market in the education and training sectors, health products and services, ‘age friendly’ sporting activities and the arts, including musical concerts, live performances, theatres, art galleries and libraries which older Australians frequent more often than the youth.

The region is additionally predicted to experience massive population growth – providing great business opportunities for many operators. With the delivery of major developments and critical infrastructure, Mr Salt predicts over 200,000 persons will settle in the Sunshine Coast, increasing the population by 58% to reach 500,000 by 2040. This equates to an average of 8,700 extra residents per year leading into 2040 –  with young families and children among the fastest-growing demographic groups.

Table - Sunshine Coast articleSo what do these changes mean for your venue? With the predicated delivery of major developments, significant population and urban growth, and a continual transformation of the economy towards knowledge work, the Sunshine Coast may transform itself into a bustling multi-dimensional urban mass and a leading business and cultural hub, connected to global cities and more connected to Asia than to the realm of Brisbane. And with a more educated population, the Coast will possess more informed and experienced consumers of hospitality offerings, with higher expectations and with a higher emphasis on quality and safety.

In order to realise the region’s potential, venues will have to become proactive, more innovative, invest in technology and first and foremost plan. For further details on developments throughout the Sunshine Coast and how to properly prepare for the future, please contact DWS on (07) 3878 9355 or at info@dws.net.au.

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Underpinning the transformation are major regional projects and developments which set to provide new services, ‘state of the art’ infrastructure and employment opportunities. So what does the future look like?

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