Sunshine Coast sets it sights on Asia and New Zealand in 2017

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Business events delivered a record $40.8 million to the region in 2015/16, while international business event visitors increased by 165 per cent compared to the year before.

BESC is expecting an even bigger year in 2017, which will also commemorate the 50th anniversary of the naming of the Sunshine Coast.

Business events manager Tiffany Bower said event planners are looking beyond the standard four-wall, city conference venues.

"The Sunshine Coast figures tell a story with a marked increase in association conferences which often attract significant numbers of international visitors," she said.

"Associations are increasingly being drawn to regional destinations for a more natural experience, where they can take advantage of the region's landscape and outdoors environment, and include healthy activities and authentic experiences to stimulate delegates."

Bower said BESC's focus for the next 18 months is to attract more events to the region and grow the share of business from Asia and New Zealand.

"A range of new proposals is expected to build the region's conference and venues capacity over the next three years, which will coincide with the launch of the new Sunshine Coast Airport in 2020," she said.

"The new airport, with an extended runway and new terminal will significantly increase the region's attractiveness for international and domestic conferences and events and will help build a strong case for an iconic convention/exhibition/events space in the future."

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