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Queensland’s Fraser Coast offers a perfect life balance between work and recreation, yet Melbourne demographer Simon Kuestenmacher says it remains largely undiscovered beyond the state’s borders. In a recent presentation, he said the current ‘Fraser Coast’ brand might be too broad and confusing. Here’s what he shared in an EXCLUSIVE interview with JOCELYN WATTS on enhancing the region’s appeal and ensuring sustainable growth.

Kuestenmacher calls for precise branding

FRASER COAST stands on the cusp of transformation says Melbourne demographer Simon Kuestenmacher.

In a presentation hosted by the Fraser Coast Property Industry Association on 17 May 2024, Kuestenmacher laid out a vision for Fraser Coast tourism, emphasising the need for a framework that balanced its diverse demographics while enhancing local appeal.

The current ‘Fraser Coast’ branding might be too broad and confusing. A more precise and evocative brand could enhance its recognition and appeal. This rebranding should encapsulate what made the area unique—its tranquillity, natural beauty, and slow-paced luxury. Unlike the bustling Gold Coast, this region could position itself as a haven for those seeking a more relaxed and intimate experience.

“A key component of the Fraser Coast’s future is precise branding,” he said. “Hervey Bay isn’t that well-known at the moment. Again, this is up for discussion and there is a strategy behind this. What do you do, and how do you want to position yourselves? Tourism always, always works. That’s an obvious growth segment for you, especially with K’gari. This is where you get the overseas market in as well.”

Tourism Vision for Balance and Growth

Kuestenmacher’s central thesis revolved around defining and targeting specific segments. He highlighted the considerations for catering to mainly lower-income tourists*, primarily the caravan market, or pivoting towards higher-end markets* with resorts and luxury accommodations.

Both segments had distinct needs and contributed differently to the local economy, he said.

Lower-income tourists*, often travelling with caravans, required less infrastructure investment but brought lower revenue per capita. On the other hand, high-end tourists*, who stayed in resorts, offered higher margins and potential for growth, demanding a picturesque esplanade and upscale amenities.

Fraser Coast Tourism - a crowd listens to man delivering tourism strategies.

Melbourne-based demographer Simon Kuestenmacher outlines strategies to boost the Fraser Coast’s future.

Jocelyn Magazine is affiliated with Booking.com and the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet. When you make purchases through links on this website, we receive a small commission, which helps us provide you with more great content.

Boost the Bay’s Esplanade and Airport

Investing in Hervey Bay’s esplanade was crucial, Kuestenmacher said. This area served as the face of the city for tourists, particularly those without cars, allowing them to explore the scenery on foot. Enhancing the Esplanade with more outdoor gyms, playgrounds, and aesthetic improvements could further attract leisure and business travellers.

“Hervey Bay is an awkwardly long sausage city, so by definition, if you walk the full spectrum across the Bay, it’s quite a hike. So you want to centralise functions as much as you can, like they’ve done with putting the new library (and council office) smack bang in the centre. That will make everything within walking distance from either direction super attractive. So you need to make sure the esplanade is good to look at.”

Kuestenmacher underscored the importance of business tourism, suggesting the establishment of a convention centre integrated into a resort. This would not only diversify Hervey Bay’s tourism portfolio, but also create a steady stream of high-spending visitors.

Another vital element in this vision was the role of Hervey Bay’s airport.

“From a tourism perspective, my advice to regional Australia is the same—always give the airport whatever the hell they ask for.”

Direct flights, such as the upcoming route to Melbourne, were instrumental in making Hervey Bay and the wider Fraser Coast region more accessible. Kuestenmacher advocated for continual investment in the airport, ensuring it could meet growing demand. This gateway was essential for capturing international tourists, particularly with the upcoming Brisbane Olympics, which would put Queensland in the global spotlight. Leveraging this event to boost the Fraser Coast’s brand would be a strategic move, requiring immediate and focused marketing efforts.

“In tourism research, we say the Olympics start having an effect as soon as eight years. In terms of brand awareness, that means now. So you need to right now be heavily pushing your narrative to the world. This is who we are; we are just a stone’s throw away from Brisbane.”

Strategy Anchored by Demographics

The demographic composition of the Fraser Coast also played a significant role in shaping its tourism strategy. With a large retiree population, the area needed to balance the influx of tourists with the needs and preferences of its residents. Kuestenmacher emphasised the importance of not alienating locals while developing high-end tourism infrastructure. This involved creating spaces that tourists and locals could enjoy, maintaining affordability in certain areas while elevating the overall experience.

Moreover, the economic benefits of tourism need to be carefully calculated. Investments in the esplanade and new resorts should be weighed against their financial returns. For instance, caravan parks, while less glamorous*, could be profitable and cater to a loyal segment of travellers. A nuanced approach, potentially segregating different tourist areas to cater to varied preferences, might be necessary. This way, luxury tourists* could enjoy high-end services without overshadowing the more modest facilities* preferred by caravan travellers.

Fraser Coast Tourism - a man and woman at a business presentation

Simon Kuestenmacher talks with Jocelyn Watts.

Diversify Tourism

Kuestenmacher’s vision also touched on broader societal trends. With the middle class shrinking and both ends of the economic spectrum growing, tourism offerings must be diversified. High-income tourists* offered safer margins, but a well-rounded strategy should include products for each end of the market. This dual approach could help the area navigate the economic shifts and ensure sustainable growth in Fraser Coast tourism.

Addressing the needs of the local workforce was crucial. As Hervey Bay attracted more retirees, the demand for service workers increased. To sustain this, the city had to appeal to young professionals and families, providing them with employment opportunities and a vibrant community life. A growing city offered more amenities, making it attractive for younger demographics, balancing the age profile and ensuring a robust workforce.

Navigating the Future

The concept Simon Kuestenmacher presented was a strategic blueprint. The region could transform into a premier destination by focusing on targeted Fraser Coast tourism, enhancing infrastructure, leveraging airport connectivity, refining branding, and balancing local needs. This approach not only promised economic growth but also ensured that the area retained its unique character and appeal to residents and visitors. Fraser Coast stood at a pivotal juncture, and with the right strategies, it could secure a thriving and prosperous future.

 

SIMON KUESTENMACHER is the Co-Founder of The Demographics Group in Melbourne. He contributes as a columnist for The Australian and The New Daily newspapers. Known for his compelling presentations, Simon substantiates his viewpoints with data and evidence.

*DISCLAIMER: The reference to different tourist segments, including those travelling with caravans and those staying in high-end resorts, is intended solely to illustrate the varying infrastructure needs and economic contributions of each group. This discussion does not imply any judgment or valuation of the tourists themselves. Both segments are valuable to the Fraser Coast’s tourism industry and contribute uniquely to its diversity and growth.

FEATURE PHOTO: An aerial view of Urangan in Hervey Bay. CanvaPro/Author unknown.

Published 18 May 2024.

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AFFILIATE DISCLAIMER: Jocelyn Magazine is affiliated with Booking.com and the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet. When you make purchases through links on this website, we receive a small commission, which helps us provide you with more great content.