Sunreef Mooloolaba’s first ever Swim with Whales season has been fantastic for tourism on the Sunshine Coast.
With more than 2000 people participating in Australia’s first swim with humpback whale tours, the first season, which will close on 2 November, has exceeded expectations for Sunreef and added a major new attraction to the tourism industry on the Sunshine Coast.
With guests including locals, Queenslanders as well as visitors from interstate and internationally from the US, UK, Germany and throughout Europe, Japan, China and throughout Asia, the new enterprise is good for the industry and the Coast economy.
Sunreef Mooloolaba Director Philip Hart said launching the encounters was not just about building their business but also the Sunshine Coast region’s tourism offering.
“The Sunreef whale migration season runs from July through to November and offers customers the unique experience of swimming with humpback whales and it’s also a great draw card to bring visitors to the Sunshine Coast,” Mr Hart said.
Sunreef offered the opportunity for both locals and tourists to swim with the whales throughout the whale migration season and believe that it is another great draw card to bring tourists to the Sunshine Coast.
“Swimming with Whales has been great in its first season but we believe it has even greater potential as a tourism draw card for the region. In the first four years after the ex-HMAS Brisbane was scuttled, the Sunshine Coast economy benefited to the tune of $20million and I don’t see this as being any less attractive,” Mr Hart said.
“In fact, whilst the ex-HMAS Brisbane was an activity specific to divers, the customer base for swimming with whales is much broader. You don’t need to be able to dive, just to swim and it can be a family activity being open to anyone from six years old.”
Mr Hart said for Sunreef the new operations had been more than two years in the making. “We have invested a lot of time and research into ensuring that this is great not just for us as a business, and our guests, but that it’s also good for the whales.
“We consulted with whale experts around the safety and impact on the whales and have developed a strict Code of Practice based on similar activities with Minkie Whales in North Queensland. This ensures a safe environment for everyone involved and educates people about the importance of the preservation of these magnificent creatures.
“We are also working with researchers at the University of the Sunshine Coast who are developing research projects around whale identification, vocalisation and interaction that will get underway next season and we offer two spots on every boat for them to undertake field studies.
“We have also hosted a Japanese film crew who are making a documentary for Japanese television focusing on the importance of whale preservation.”
Mr Hart said he was excited with the results of Sunreef’s promotion of the Swim with Whales encounters, which was of benefit to the Sunshine Coast tourism industry and economy.
“Through our public relations campaign, and working with Sunshine Coast Destinations Ltd and Tourism Events Queensland, we have reached more than 15 million people worldwide.
“This has included great international coverage in Europe, the UK, Asia and the US including the New York Times, BBC Travel, UK Daily Mail as well as national coverage on channels Nine, Ten, Seven and the ABC and extensive newspaper and radio coverage.
“All the coverage has not only mentioned Swimming with Whales but the Sunshine Coast as well, so that is great for everyone.”
Sunshine Coast Councilor for Economic Development: Tourism, Sport and Major Events, Cr OPray is today checking out the operations for himself, taking a trip out with Sunreef from 8am to 11.30am.
”I am really excited to be able to go and check out the season’s last whales,” Cr OPray said. “Whales are such magnificent creatures and we are blessed by their passing our shores.
“I have heard a lot about it and it fits well into the range of water-borne attractions the Sunshine Coast has on offer to tourists and locals alike.
“It’s one thing to see a whale on a video or TV program; it’s surely another thing again to be up close as we will today.”
Sunreef has plans to expand operations next season and will be offering packages to tourists who want to come to stay on the Coast, swim with the whales or dive the ex-HMAS Brisbane and check out some of the region’s other great attractions.
For more information on Sunreef and swimming with the whales visit www.sunreef.com.au or call 07 5444 5656.