Noosa Tourism



Frank Wilkie addressed a forum of tourism business owners at Noosa Boat House, responding to questions posed by Tourism Noosa.

1. What are your thoughts on tourism in Noosa?

We’ve reached a stage in our evolution as a community to realise we all want the same things and that our interests are linked.

The ultimate shared goal is a healthy, connected, culturally vibrant and prosperous Noosa.

Tourism in Noosa must be a balance between Noosa’s identity as a community first and also a highly successful visitor destination, upon which many residents depend.

The crossroads at which we find ourselves is an opportunity to recognise our shared interests and tackle this in a three-way partnership between the community, industry and council.  

The approach since the 1980s has been that if we make Noosa a great place to live, it will also remain an attractive place to visit and set up a business. Many permanent residents, myself included, first saw Noosa as a visitor.

For many of us, it is only our children who are true Noosa locals and many are motivated to collectively act as custodians to leave the shire in a better place for them and everyone.

Putting in place measures to better manage the impacts of tourism is key to this.

Collectively, we will improve the Noosa experience for both residents and visitors.

2. Tell us about your ideas for how you (we will collectively) sustain Noosa’s visitor economy across the region.

This question of sustainable or regenerative tourism is a central theme of the Destination Management Plan and its answer will continue to be very much be shaped by feedback from, and partnerships with, the community and industry.

It’s important we stay true to the feedback gained during this process, the key issues are

  1. Traffic Management: Managing congestion, parking, improving public transport, reducing car dependency through investigating solutions like paid parking during peak periods, park & ride schemes etc. This was a very strong theme
  2. Environmental Protection: Strong focus on the core practices that have defined Noosa council and community by protecting natural assets like forests, rivers, beaches.
  3. Community Values: Defining and upholding shared values related to environment and clearly communicating expectations to visitors via marketing and promotion. Ideas like a visitor code of conduct or commitment pledge were regularly mentioned.
  4. Population and Visitor Growth Management: Concerns about Noosa Shire’s carrying capacity and limited infrastructure’s ability to handle projected growth in population and visitors. A number of people mentioned the SE QLD plan. Suggestions included capping visitor numbers, visitor dispersal strategies.
  5. Waste Management: The need to transition to more sustainable and innovative waste management practices, facilities, and infrastructure; Educating tourists and the community about responsible practices
  6. Youth Engagement: Providing dedicated activities and facilities for local youth year-round to address boredom and behaviour issues. Enabling youth to stay in the community.
  7. Community Amenity: Protecting the lifestyle, amenities and access to the iconic natural sites that make Noosa Shire special for locals. Not allowing crowds to overwhelm community facilities and infrastructure.
  8. Accommodation: Concerns over lack of affordable, long-term rentals and student accommodation options. Concerns that Noosa Shire’s sense of community is being eroded by STAs in residential areas.

As a perfect example of how the interests of residents and industry are linked, the spread of short term visitor accommodation has impacted residents amenity and led to a shortage of accommodation for visitor economy workers

This Destination Management Plan signifies a departure from the traditional, growth- centric, “more is better” approach towards a more integrated and inclusive custodianship approach that recognises the community and nature as primary stakeholders.

This approach is a new phenomenon in Australia and I believe we’re collectively ready for it.

The call is for transformational action to address these challenges. After the election, a revised DMP including an action and implementation plan will go out for community consultation.

Although a community may call for transformational change, it’s often still a shock when it occurs even with broad media coverage and consultation. Change management will have to be a key focus in the next council.

My personal belief is that we will still need skilled, strategic and targeted marketing to attract a high-spending and environmentally-aware visitor who respects Noosa’s environment and community.

Without a pro-active marketing approach, we risk becoming, by default, a high volume, low spend drive destination only.

3. Noosa Council currently contributes $2.5M annually to Tourism Noosa which in 2022-23 returned $1.7B overnight visitor expenditure into the local economy. What are your thoughts on this?

Noosa Council raises approximately $15million in rates annually from visitor accommodation and currently contributes $2.5Million to Tourism Noosa to promote Noosa as a tourist destination to the high-yield traveller, typically the interstate or overseas visitor who tend to stay longer, spend more and not contribute to traffic congestion because they usually fly in.

The available data estimates this returned $1.7billion into Noosa’s economy which represents the high end of a trend of increasing spend over the past decade from below $1b. This appears to be all positive.

What these statistics don’t show is the impact of Noosa’s success as a tourist destination has had on the community, principally through the spread of Short Term Accommodation (STAs) through residential neighbourhoods and our environment through extra waste generated, waste to landfill and resource recovery.

It’s the social and environmental cost of this success that has prompted the need for a reassessment of where we are heading as a community, via the Destination Management Plan.

The focus of this community conversation must be on how we can change the way we do things to improve the Noosa experience for the residents and the visitor for the long-term.

It’s an incredibly exciting opportunity to learn from other communities around the world who are grappling with the same issues and work together towards achieving a future that enshrines Noosa’s points of difference and benefits everyone.

Frank Wilkie
Deputy Mayor, Noosa Council

0413 530 587
PO Box 117, Peregian Beach Qld 4573