Fatal coward punch causes concern among tourists
SUNSHINE Coast tourism operators are having to reassure visitors the region is still family-friendly and safe after the latest act of street violence.
Some Mooloolaba accommodation providers are worried the negative perceptions of the area after the king-hit death of Bruce Steensen on Saturday night could affect bookings.
Already some hotels are fielding calls from concerned guests and some bookings have been cancelled for coming weekends.
Mooloolaba Business and Tourism president Peter Foran said branding was important for the popular tourist spot and the negative perceptions were taking their toll.
"Mooloolaba is still a safe place to be. These sorts of incidents are not isolated to Mooloolaba and it's a poor reflection on society as a whole unfortunately," Mr Foran said.
"Guests are bringing up Saturday's incident and questioning whether it is safe here.
"The word has spread far and wide. I've had a call from a unit owner who lives in Hong Kong.
"This does impact badly upon the image of Mooloolaba.
"Business is tough enough without perceptions harming bookings.
"We just want everyone to know that the slogan is 'come as you are' and that's exactly what we are all about.
"That's coming and enjoying what Mooloolaba has to offer."
Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson agreed.
"On behalf of the entire Sunshine Coast I'd like to extend my sincere sympathy to the family and friends of Bruce Steensen," Mr Jamieson said.
"But this incident should not be seen as a reflection of the Sunshine Coast.
"(The) Sunshine Coast is a favourite amongst families and I'd certainly assure visitors that the citizens of the Sunshine Coast welcome them with open arms.
"We have hard-working police and authorities, but they can not be everywhere at all times."
Sunshine Coast Crime statistics show assaults in general have decreased 13.9% from December 2013 (79 occurrences) to January 2014 (68 occurrences).
Assaults in Mooloolaba have reduced 30% since 2006 and between 2012 and 2013, assaults were down 12%.
Sunshine Coast police have ramped up their patrols in the Maroochydore and Mooloolaba areas in a concerted effort to curb drunken violence.
Operation Safe Night Out enters its third week tomorrow night. It involves 16 police officers patrolling licensed venues and party precincts on Thursday and Saturday nights into the early hours of the morning.
Central Patrol Group inspector Jason Overland said the operation was in response to the spate of street violence since the death of Wayne Dover outside The Factory nightclub in late November.
"We have had two tragic incidents in a few months and without downplaying those incidents, it is unusual," Insp Overland said.
"I'd say to visitors, come and enjoy everything the Sunshine Coast has to offer and expect to see police on patrol to provide community safety at night."