Beach could drive up tourism operators’ take

GOD’S OWN COUNTRY: The Great Beach Drive takes in Inskip Point, the crossing point to Fraser Island.
GOD’S OWN COUNTRY: The Great Beach Drive takes in Inskip Point, the crossing point to Fraser Island. Contributed

TANYA Beech, Mark Skinner and Glenn Wiggins are preparing for a mini economic boon driven by sun, sand, surf and four-wheel-drives.

The three business operators are a new breed of tourism entrepreneurs.

While other business owners battle hard to stop competing interests encroaching on their territories, this enterprising trio has one goal in mind - more tourists bringing more opportunities to their communities.

Ms Beech, Mr Skinner and Mr Wiggins joined 20 other Sunshine Coast, Gympie and Fraser Coast tourism operators at the launch of the Australia's Natural Coast Great Beach Drive in Brisbane yesterday.

The Sunshine Coast Destinations-Fraser Coast Opportunities concept is intended to encourage international visitors to spend more time, and money, along both coastlines.

On offer - 200km of beach driving encompassing some of the country's most spectacular beaches, marine parks and natural attractions.

Ms Beech, who owns and operates Gympie's Rainbow Ocean Palms Resort, said it made sense to join forces.

"We've all identified this international market that's untapped because most people don't want to travel independently and have their own vehicle transport," she said.

"So we're packaging this in a way that allows people to fly into Sunshine Coast Airport and the transfers are provided up the beach from Noosa, which incorporates the Great Beach Drive.

"So you're getting the tour within the transfers from the airport. And then arrival at Rainbow Beach, staying a couple of nights in our small coastal town (Gympie). That will bring a lot of new international visitors in."

Ms Beech said co-operation was key to the concept's success.

"We're also working co-operatively to offer a range of experiences," she said. "So the Great Beach Drive is a great linkage between the Sunshine Coast, the Cooloola region and the Fraser Coast.

"In the past there's been quite a bit of segregation."

Mr Skinner, the operator of Narrows Escape Rainforest Retreat in Montville, said getting on board the Great Beach Drive was a no-brainer."The Great Beach Drive has attracted enormous interest from international visitors," he said.

Surf & Sand Safaris owner Glenn Wiggins said he was expecting an influx of customers to grow his business.

Operating a mix of seven Toyota 14-seat 4WD vans and 4WD station wagons, driven by three employees, the Rainbow Beach business operator said he expected the concept to boost his company in the coming 12 months.

"We've just bought another three vehicles and we've got more people getting accredited to do the drives," he said.

The north point of the Great Beach Drive takes in Maryborough and the return trip detours to Tin Can Bay for sailing, swimming, fishing and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin watching.

Topics:  four-wheel drives tourism

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