HEAT IS ON: Beating the heat at Cotton Tree are Catherine and Kieran Connolly with Cara Szabo, Michelle Ward and Shayan Barmand.
HEAT IS ON: Beating the heat at Cotton Tree are Catherine and Kieran Connolly with Cara Szabo, Michelle Ward and Shayan Barmand. Patrick Woods

Tourism numbers soar as Brisbane feels the heat

SUNNY rain-free days between Christmas and New Year have boosted holiday booking numbers as short-stay visitors out of Brisbane headed to Sunshine Coast beaches to escape the heat.

Holiday-makers also took to the air from southern states in record number with the two-week period from December 20 to January 2 seeing a 10% year-to-year increase in passenger movements at Sunshine Coast Airport.

Airport manager Peter Pallot estimated 50,000 passengers had passed through the terminal during the two weeks.

The busiest day was New Year's Day with 5100 seats in and out of the airport with the second busiest December 24 which saw just over 5000 passenger movements.

Novotel Twin Waters is at capacity with 1300 guests in house at present and has been full for the past week.

General manager Warwick Kahl said the resort would remain close to capacity until mid-January with online inquiries still very strong.

Three reservation staff are still taking bookings as guests make late decisions to escape to the beach.

"The hot weather pick up has been great," Mr Kahl said.

"What we find is if it's hot in Brisbane people just want to get out. We get good growth at strong rates."

Prior to Christmas the average stay at the resort is five days falling to two to three days for the back half of the holiday period.

Mr Kahl said while it has remained hot in house guests have looked to extend their stays, requests that have not always been able to be accommodated.

Occupancy is ahead of the 2015-16 Christmas-New Year and looks likely to remain strong for the remainder of the school holidays.

Novotel Twin Waters has 190 full-time equivalent staff on deck and had 2000 guests and others turn out for the resort's New Year's Eve fireworks and jetski display.

Restaurants, bars and clubs in the Mooloolaba-Maroochydore tourism strip have been packed with accommodation owners reporting they are either full or near-to-full.

Noosa Deputy Mayor and Noosa Tourism board member Frank Wilkie said the whole tourism precinct looked busy with people.

"Everywhere is trading well," Cr Wilkie said.

He said all data flowing from Tourism Research Australia was showing ever-increasing growth in visitations to Noosa from domestic, international and drive market tourism.

Mr Pallot said survey lines for the expansion of Sunshine Coast Airport would be run this month as worked continued to upgrading Finland Road as a haulage route for construction vehicles.

Heavy machinery needed for construction of a new runway won't appear on site before mid-year, he said.