Noosa now battling lower incomes, ageing population

CONSULTANTS who have produced a fairly grim new economic profile of Noosa for the council are not exactly shouting from the rooftops - "populate or perish".

But the AEC Group's report to be presented to councillors today details Noosa's alleged precarious economic footing - burdened by its so-called "population cap" development restrictions, with an ageing population, lower average incomes and an over-reliance on tourism.

The AEC summary makes for stark reading - going against the grain of Noosa Council's prolonged rejection of reliance on the boom and bust building industry expansion. But these findings have been labelled by an unimpressed Mayor Noel Playford as shallow, alarmist and not really backed up by hard data.

"I think they are pretty shallow comments," Councillor Playford said.

The profile says: "The Noosa economy has many inherit challenges including lower levels of population growth (important to drive the economy), an older population that is ageing faster than other communities in Queensland."

The median age of Noosa's residents was 45.9 years in 2011 which was 7.8 years higher than the median age of South-East Queensland residents at 38.1 years and 9.9 years higher than the median age of residents of the state.

"Looking forward to 2036, a projected 57.2% of all residents in the Shire will be aged 45 years and older, with almost a third of all residents forecast to be aged 65 years and over.

"Like most tourist and lifestyle destinations, much of the economy is geared towards tourism and population driven industry sectors (i.e. retail, accommodation and food services, health care, etc," the profile says.

AEC believes Noosa is susceptible "to future economic shocks" and lacks "economic sustainability and resilience" due to "the over-reliance on tourism and population driven industries".

"The current economic structure translates through to lower levels of full-time employment, which means that local wages and incomes are below the state average," the profile says.

On the upside, AEC finds that "Noosa has a strong and significant brand and image, which probably acts as one of the area's strongest competitive advantages".

"Ways must be found to leverage this brand and the amenity and lifestyle of the area to leverage other non-tourism opportunities in the economy.

"By doing so, the economy will become more diverse, create higher levels of value and present new and varied opportunities for new job growth."

AEC identifies key trends which will "greatly impact the future economic development" of Noosa, with top of the list population growth.

"Population growth in Noosa has accelerated for the first time in many years, growing 1.4% in 2014 compared to 1.2% the previous two years.

"At the same time population growth across South-East Queensland and Queensland has slowed.

"Given the importance of population growth to the Noosa economy, this is a noticeable and important change."

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