LAST year it didn't even rank in the top 10, but this year the Gold Coast has edged out Melbourne to capture second spot among Australia's top tourism destinations.
However, Sydney remains the crowd favourite by cementing its position at the top of the list compiled annually by TripAdvisor.
Queensland destinations take out five of the Top 10 Travellers' Choice Destinations in Australia, including Brisbane in third place, Cairns and Port Douglas in fifth and sixth respectively, with Noosa landing in 10th spot.
The Gold Coast edged out Melbourne for second place, a feat not lost on Gold Coast Tourism CEO Martin Winter who describes it as a 'major coup'. Winter was quick to dismiss last year's snub by travellers, revelling instead in the Coast's first inclusion in the top destinations list.
"Gold Coast's second place ranking, ahead of Melbourne, is yet more serious acknowledgement of the city and its diverse and valuable tourism offerings.
"This is a terrific achievement for the Gold Coast and is testament to the fact that the Gold Coast continues to deliver incredible experiences which places us in the top of Australia's most popular destinations."
Winter says the latest rankings come on the back of resurgence in the Gold Coast's reputation as a dining and leisure destination, aided by Tourism Australia's latest marketing campaign.
"Over the past eighteen month, the Gold Coast has received a host of awards," Winter says.
The 2015 TripAdvisor Travellers Choice Awards named Surfers Paradise among the Top 10 Destinations on the Rise in the South Pacific, while Burleigh Heads noshery The Fish House placed second in the Top 10 Restaurants in Australia and three Gold Coast beaches were named among the top 10 in Australia.
Winter says the Restaurant Australia campaign by Tourism Australia has helped both Australia and the Gold Coast take advantage of the growing global demand for food and wine to be part of the travel experience.
"The campaign has helped put a spotlight on the emerging food and wine scene here on the Gold Coast with fantastic new restaurants and funky cafes opening almost every week," he says.
"It is about telling the story of our great local produce, fresh seafood that can be bought directly from fishermen and abundance of delicious tropical fruit that visitors can enjoy in unique settings whether it is a candlelight dinner right on the beach or a lunch at a winery overlooking the mountains of the Gold Coast Hinterland.
"The Restaurant Australia campaign by Tourism Australia has delivered a platform to share these stories with a global audience.
"On top of this, Gold Coast Tourism's delivers a range of multi-channel marketing campaigns in key domestic and international markets each year to drive further awareness of and bookings for the Gold Coast as a holiday destination."
Winter says the focus now should be improving the delivery of customer service for visitors.
"TripAdvisor has revealed that some of our local accommodation providers, tourism attractions and restaurants are already doing some fantastic work in this space which has helped position the Gold Coast at the top of beloved travel spots today. "
Top 10 Travellers' Choice Destinations (Australia)
2. Gold Coast
6. Port Douglas
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