Midweek Catch-up with Visit Sunshine Coast’s Ali Thompson

Midweek Catch-up with Visit Sunshine Coast’s Ali Thompson

This week, Visit Sunshine Coast’s events manager took us horse riding on the Noosa North Shore, and by that we mean we sent her some interview questions and then watched the Saddle Club.

What’s your main goal for this year?

It’s great to have joined the established team at VSC heading the business and leisure events team. The Sunshine Coast has bounced back really strongly as a leisure destination and now we are looking to rebuild our business and leisure events sector.

Fortunately, we have the perfect ingredients for making the Sunshine Coast one of Australia’s most dynamic events destinations, so we are busy raising our profile through marketing campaigns, and securing leads and events for the region through engagement with event planners.

What’s your favourite thing about working in the industry?

As a people connecter and networker, I am passionate about people and places, I thrive from seeing the delight when events come to life.

Events bring magic, make memories, excite, motivate, destress, and importantly bring people together. All these attributes are more important now than ever.

Events run in my DNA, and fortunately, my work is an essential element of my life, my life is my playground, and my playground is now the Sunshine Coast.

How do you like to spend your free time?

That was one of the main reasons I wanted to come to the Sunshine Coast, as beach, healthy outdoor living and enjoyment of life are all fundamental to my character.

I also love the culture, art and theatre (the performer in me has been known to sing and dance on stage in my time), as well as the foodie wonderland. It’s a far more laid-back lifestyle than the city and so, for me, the Sunny Coast offers everything I was looking for balance work, life, and play.

Have you managed to do any travelling since restrictions began to ease (domestic or international)?

This question made me react with a giggle and a huff! If I could insert the emoji with arms in the air and a sigh I would.

In short, I haven’t done much travelling over the past couple of years, but with domestic and international borders now open I have multiple travel plans on the radar, within Australia and internationally.

If you could invite three famous guests (dead or alive) to a dinner party, who would you choose?

Tricky, there are so many I would wish to invite.

As a shopaholic, I am fascinated with the fashion world, especially early influencers, so I’d have to go with an old British favourite, none other than the extravagant Vivienne Westwood. Her flair, non-conformist courageousness and creative ability excites and synergises with me.

Secondly, the great artist Salvador Dali, another eccentric creative. His surreal technical skill, precise draftsmanship, bizarreness and vision have great appeal. Does that make me eccentric too…??? (Insert puzzled look emoji!)

Thirdly, would have to be urbanist and global advisor Professor Greg Clark. I am in awe of his work. The Professor has advised more than 300 cities, 50 national governments and a wide array of bodies on strategies for smart cities, urban development, and investment. He is also quite the character.

Between the three of them, this should make for an interesting evening!

What’s something positive you’ve witnessed or experienced since the global pandemic hit?

The pandemic has, by default, enabled us to re-evaluate and focus on what we are good at and what makes us happy. In turn, allowing us a deeper thought process, as humans, many of us are no longer content to settle for the mundane, or an unfulfilling way of life, we chase rich experiences. People have become humbler with more life appreciation which I think can only be positive.

What’s your advice for others in the travel industry on coping with the global pandemic?

Hang on in their folks, we all know it has been a battle, I know we’re exhausted by it and it’s not over yet – but with clever planning, optimism, encouragement and a little (or lot) of help from governments, airlines and experts we should be back on track.

Many people will still be cautious about travelling overseas in the short term, so there are good opportunities to sell really attractive Australian destinations – like the Sunshine Coast, of course!

What TV show can you not get enough of lately?

During lockdown in Sydney, I became somewhat of a square eyes. Series like The Queens Gambit and Peaky Blinders seemed to engage my soul in an addictive obsessive-compulsive state. As much as I enjoyed them, thank goodness those days are over!

Do you have any travel goals for 2022?

Yes, to visit my beloved family in the UK. I simply cannot wait.

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