Amid the universal clamour of New Year's resolutions targeting personal betterment, Queensland steps on to the global podium as just the place to be and feel your best… and perhaps also achieve a Personal Best (PB) in the process. Year-round!
That's the low-down from new research commissioned by Tourism and Events Queensland – announced today (Sunday 14 January 2018) by Queensland Government Acting Minister for Innovation and Tourism Industry Development Shannon Fentiman – revealing just what drives the world's most active travellers to 'bucket list' fit-cations across the state. Click here to view Ministerial Statement.
The research undertaken by Strategic Facts polled 3,695 domestic and international participants in the state's endurance events – covering everything from triathlon to multi-sport challenges; running, mountain biking and cycling events; and idyllic year-round ocean swims.
Of note, the research showed Queensland cornered a global niche in wellness/fit-cation tourism by virtue of the state's natural assets. Notably, the unrivalled win-win of competing in bucket list destinations from the Gold Coast to Sunshine Coast and Tropical North Queensland's World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest.
Other key pluses included friendly locals; world-class, safe and accessible events; and the opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends.
- 99 per cent gave Queensland the thumbs-up as Australia's endurance event capital, with overall experience and atmosphere meeting all expectations; rated as 'impressive' or 'standout – best ever' on a global scale.
- Kudos indeed from the world's most active travellers: 94 per cent travel up to four times a year outside their home state/country, specifically to participate in endurance events.
- 87 per cent travel in tribes to endurance events, joined by family and friends, who are not just passive companions; 58 per cent also compete.
- 68 per cent of all respondents rated Queensland as 'impressive' or 'standout – best ever' when it came to enjoying time with family and friends, rising to 73 per cent of those from interstate and overseas.
- Over two thirds (69 per cent) of interstate and overseas respondents took a post-event holiday in Queensland, with 77 per cent rating their holiday as 'family-friendly'.
- 97 per cent underlined the win-win of competing in bucket list destinations including the Great Barrier Reef in Tropical North Queensland and world-renowned beaches on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.
- 99 per cent gave a big thumbs-up to Queensland's climate/environment/nature while competing, with 70 per cent rating its impact on their experience as 'impressive' or 'standout – best ever' and 68 per cent going a step further to state these factors gave Queensland the edge over other global endurance event destinations.
- More than half (59 per cent) of overseas respondents said Queensland's climate, sunshine, fresh air and warm water were 'absolutely' the driving reasons they travelled to endurance events in the state.
- Fit-cations, including weekend getaways to endurance events, are a part of their way of life: 96 per cent of all respondents compete for the love of it, as 'age groupers' not professional athletes. But they train like pros: 54 per cent train more than six times a week.
- Winning, however, is not their objective! It's about personal growth and wellbeing: 81 per cent said personal goals, health and sporting achievement were 'hugely important' vs 29 per cent feeling the same way about competition/performance.
- In other significant findings (notably in answers to open-ended questions), respondents continuously stated the people in Queensland (friendly, welcoming and inclusive) gave the state the edge over other event locations, alongside safety and world-class standard of competition across 'diverse and adventurous' terrain.
Born and raised on the Gold Coast, triathlon legend, Emma Frodeno (nee Snowsill) – the most decorated woman in international triathlon history – said the new research echoed her own life story.
As a teenager, at high school, she became hooked on endurance events after joining a team in the Noosa Triathlon 'for fun'.
The rest is history. Before retiring in 2014, the three-time world champion won gold at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games and 2008 Beijing Olympics, also taking out the International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Cup 12 times.
“I remember way back to my first experience at the Noosa Triathlon and, at the time thinking, this is very exciting,” she said. “It beat spending weeks in the pool and there was incredible atmosphere. A real community buzz and sense of belonging.
“Slowly I managed to do the swim and the run the following year in the Noosa Tri and found my way in the last year of school into the schools' triathlon at the event.”
Also welcoming the findings, IRONMAN Oceania Managing Director David Beeche said there was no question Queensland ranked highly as a global leader in hosting world-class endurance events in some of the most idyllic and diverse destinations on the planet. A key reason, he said, behind the global heavyweight staging the IRONMAN Asia Pacific Championship in Tropical North Queensland as part of the Cairns Airport Adventure Festival.
“Queensland is up there with the best destinations in the world on the global IRONMAN stage,” Mr Beeche said.
“Every year we see numbers grow at annual events across the state, including the world's biggest triathlon during the Noosa Triathlon Multi Sport Festival; the IRONMAN 70.3 Sunshine Coast in Mooloolaba, which hosted the 2016 World Championships; and ever-popular Gold Coast Triathlon – Luke Harrop Memorial held on the same course that Commonwealth Games triathletes will compete on in April.”
Mr Beeche said Queensland's idyllic and easily accessible destinations prompted IRONMAN to develop exciting new endurance events (launching in 2018) – importantly, answering participants' hunger for family-friendly fit-cations in adventurous, bucket list destinations.
They include a four-day mountain bike stage race in Tropical North Queensland called the Reef to Reef, and, on the Sunshine Coast, the Runaway Noosa Marathon – one of the group's four new marathon series events.
“Noosa really was a no-brainer,” Mr Beeche said. “It's a destination that simply doesn't put a foot wrong in promising so much more than just another running event – natural beauty, world-class running trails, local hospitality and drool-factor food and wine.”
Professional triathlete, Olympian and four-time winner of the Noosa Triathlon, Ashleigh Gentle – currently ranked No. 2 on the ITU World Triathlon Series and selected to represent Australia at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games – understands the benefits of training and competing in Queensland.
The Brisbane girl, now based on the Gold Coast, said: “We are pretty blessed to have amazing conditions all year round . . . Queensland is just an awesome place to be.”
Queensland's reputation as Australia's wellness/fit-cation capital doesn't stop at the state's ever-increasing line-up of endurance events.
In 2018, new sweat-worthy tourism offerings traverse everything from a 'Nature Tri' (organised by Ride On Mary… Kayak & Bike Bush Adventures, inspired by the Noosa Triathlon – download video) covering a kayak with platypuses, mountain bike and country hike to a luxe sailing adventure complete with stand-up paddle (SUP) races between idyllic islands of the Whitsundays (organised by Whitsunday Escape), fully-catered cycling adventure from the Daintree to Cairns via Atherton Tablelands and the start-up of electric mountain bike tours of Cape Tribulation.
The notion of wellness, meanwhile, has emerged as a much-needed antidote to the stresses of modern life. Even global fashion bible Vogue (US) emblazoned the word 'Wellness' across its January 2018 edition, taking it mainstream.
According to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), wellness tourism will grow from the current $563 billion to $808 billion by 2020 – with Australia ranked No. 1 in the top five growth leaders for percentage increase in wellness tourism trips. The nation recorded an 85 per cent increase in wellness trips, rocketing from 4.6 million to 8.5 million trips between 2013 and 2015.
Importantly, Queensland has taken an active seat at GWI's annual Global Wellness Summit, with Gold Coast-based Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat founder Tony de Leede last year appointed to its Advisory Board.
Opened in 2006 on 200 hectares of Tallebudgera Valley, the retreat (co-owned by Hugh Jackman) has long been considered ahead of its time in wellness tourism, awarded Australia's Best Wellness Retreat 2017 and Oceania's Best Wellness Retreat 2017 for the third consecutive year at the World Spa Awards among many accolades.
And while WELL-thy is the new wealthy, wellness/fit-cation holidays in Queensland can suit any budget and fitness level from stand-up paddle (SUP) yoga retreats (check out the video) to beginner mountain bike adventures, (check out Tropical North Queensland's rad trails in this video), guided hikes, beach meditation and snorkelling safaris.
At a glance, Tourism Research Australia's National Visitor Survey (year ending June 2017), revealed the most popular adventures undertaken by all domestic visitors to Queensland covered:
- Bushwalking/rainforest walks: 2,401,000 (three-year growth trend of 7.5%)
- Exercise, gym or swimming: 1,742,000 (three-year growth trend of 21%)
- Fishing: 1,130,000 (three-year growth trend of -5.3%)
- Water activities / sports: 944,000 (three-year growth trend of 6.8%)
- Surfing: 402,000 (three-year growth trend of 1.7%)
- Snorkelling: 355,000 (three-year growth trend of 0.7%)
- Golf: 347,000 (three-year growth trend of 4.8%)
- Cycling: 288,000 (three-year growth trend of 4.6%)
Queensland's unrivalled reefs, islands and beaches inspired three times more snorkelling adventures than in New South Wales (97,000) and a whopping 15 times more snorkelling trips than Victoria (23,000).
Best things in life are free? Swimming has emerged as a holiday activity growth trend across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, up 18 to 22 per cent over three years.
To celebrate summer Queensland-style, there's no better time to dive into some of the world's most epic ocean swimming events from the Gold Coast to Great Barrier Reef.
Check out Queensland's Top 5 Ocean Swims. Guaranteed: this video will bring out your inner mermaid/merman, from the Gold Coast to Great Barrier Reef, including the chance to circumnavigate Green Island or make a splash off World No. 2 Beach, Whitehaven Beach, in the Whitsundays.
Click here to discover how ocean swimming can help you live longer, look younger, burn more calories than running and football and even boost your IQ! Water, of course, has long been a symbol of renewal and using seawater for health and wellness even has a name: thalassotherapy. Developed in the seaside town of Brittany, France, in the 19th century, trace elements of magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium, and iodide (found in seawater), were believed to help the skin retain moisture and detoxify, in turn promoting new cell growth.
Stay grounded: you don't have to fly to France! On the 4th floor of Brisbane Marriott Hotel, the award-winning Dome Spa Retreat menu includes a detox thalasso wrap using seaweed harvested from Brittany, an invigorating six-jet Vichy shower to aid lymphatic circulation and last month's introduction of an exciting new hydrotherapy treatment, the 'Riverstone Rain Shower Massage' complete with aromatic salt body scrub to smooth the skin and re-mineralise the body!
*Wherever you wander in Queensland, there's a spa escape with your name on it.
But first… follow the lead of the world's most active travellers and mark your calendars, for epic fit-cations that hero Queensland's world-class endurance events: www.queensland.com/endurance. Everything from challenges you can totally tackle as a beginner to road-testing the same triathlon course Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games greats will conquer in April. Renowned for its feel-good vibe, the Gold Coast Triathlon – Luke Harrop Memorial (25 Feburary 2018) arguably attracts as many famous faces to celebrate the life of Luke Harrop, killed in a training accident in 2002 (road accident involving a stolen car). The annual triathlon, held in his honour since 2003, draws thousands of entrants, including Olympian, Ashleigh Gentle, selected to represent Australia at Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and Luke's sister, Loretta Harrop, who, inspired by her younger brother to take up triathlons, won gold at the 1999 ITU world championships and silver at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Still got energy to burn? Check out Tourism and Events Queensland's It's Live! in Queensland calendar, showcasing Australia's best live events in the best destinations, putting the spotlight on art, culture, music, food, wine, sport… and everything in between. www.queensland.com/events