Mining magnate Clive Palmer has plans to turn Queensland’s Sunshine Coast into one of the world’s top tourist destinations:
His plans include an international airport, a 1000-room beachfront hotel, and a 400-person ocean-going hovercraft service between Brisbane’s CBD to Coolum.
In the video on the link above (1:07) he speaks about the Sunshine Coast being depressed with high unemployment.
That confirms our observation, on a two-day sunshine fix at Noosa last week, that the Sunshine Coast’s economy was far from sunny.
Last time we were there, about four years ago, the town was bustling. This time it was quiet with several empty shops and lots of for sale and lease signs on buildings.
The weather was cool by local standards which might have been keeping people indoors but locals we talked to said it had been a quiet winter.
The high dollar won’t be helping tourism, nor will high prices. People complain about the cost of food here, it was more expensive there even before we converted our currency. Main courses were rarely less than $A35 and often more than $A40 which was at least 10% more than was usual in cafés and restaurants we ate at when we were in Europe in June.
We spoke about our observations with farmers at a dinner in Sydney on Thursday. They said we were seeing the slower side of the two-speed economy. Mining is booming, farming’s generally okay and so are the businesses which service and supply them but the rest of the economy is struggling.
Even though it was cool, the sun was shining in Noosa but there was a chill in the economic air.
Palmer’s plan is likely to be controversial but it could be what’s needed to bring some heat back to the Sunshine Coast’s economy.