TONY COCHRANE

Casino com­po­nent is a vexed ques­tion for de­ci­sion-mak­ers but find­ing and de­vel­op­ing the right lo­ca­tion is a non-ne­go­tiable

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS - TONY COCHRANE

Our one shot at an in­te­grated re­sort needs to be a bulls­eye

TO casino or not to casino, that is the ques­tion.

I might have stolen that line from Will.

See we have one, so do we need/re­quire an­other in the fab­u­lous sun-drenched tourism cap­i­tal of Aus­tralia? I speak of our home, the Gold Coast.

I’m ag­nos­tic on this vex­ing ques­tion right now. Don’t get me wrong – I care, no, make that re­ally care.

Now any lo­cal iden­ti­fies that for a long time Jupiters, now Star, was a pretty av­er­age joint. How­ever full credit to them – over the past three years it has been spruced up, en­hanced and made into a great des­ti­na­tion ho­tel and fa­cil­ity. They have added great ad­di­tions like the Dar­ling Ho­tel, Sports Bar, the Gar­den Bar and sev­eral ex­cel­lent restau­rants like Nine­teen – su­perb job, no ques­tion. So big civic tick to Star.

It is now, as one would ex­pect, at­tract­ing a strong take-up in both do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional tourism. A win for them and a big win for our city.

So cour­tesy of the State Gov­ern­ment we are now in an open de­bate about, do we have a sec­ond casino cen­tred around a fully in­te­grated re­sort?

Wow – that is a re­ally good ques­tion.

Alas I don’t have the de­fin­i­tive an­swer – but let me throw a few thoughts/ideas out there to add to the de­bate. Some people with some weird and crazy ideas are al­ready in this de­bate I might add. Se­ri­ously, what are you smok­ing?

There is no ques­tion that the GC needs a new and ma­jor tourism piece of in­fra­struc­ture to en­sure we keep the visi­tors com­ing/ grow­ing and en­sure we stay front of cen­tre in any tourism mind­set. I doubt any­one would ar­gue that.

So, con­sid­er­ing that, a new ma­jor fully in­te­grated re­sort makes lots of sense. Big tick to the State Gov­ern­ment and the GC Coun­cil on that con­sid­er­a­tion.

A few must-haves:

It needs to be on or very near our spec­tac­u­lar wa­ter­ways/beaches – be­cause that is cer­tainly what a lot of tourists now de­mand.

It needs to be world class and have a high stan­dard with hope­fully a mar­quee or a strong global “at­tached” brand.

It needs to break new ground as an at­trac­tion in its own right. In other words – it must have the WOW fac­tor!

One of my lucky roles in my life is I have had the plea­sure (some­times not) of trav­el­ling the world – so I have played work­ing tourist nearly ev­ery­where, and for a very long time.

So, some of the brands and some of the sug­ges­tions of what they might or might not bring to the Coast is com­plete and ut­ter rub­bish.

My sug­ges­tion to those mak­ing these crit­i­cal de­ci­sions is to stop look­ing at a brochure and go and ex­pe­ri­ence these of­fer­ings first hand. Some of the casino op­er­a­tors for ex­am­ple have some se­ri­ously av­er­age prop­er­ties. That we cer­tainly don’t need. The only thing av­er­age about the Gold Coast is the M1!

Does it need a casino at its core? I don’t know, maybe. But let’s con­sider all op­tions, not just lock in on the casino as a must-have el­e­ment.

In other words, let’s keep our op­tions open to any coura­geous con­cept of this fully in­te­grated re­sort. There are ma­jor in­te­grated re­sorts in the world that do not re­volve around a casino.

As I said at the out­set – I’m ag­nos­tic here, I don’t mind if it does have a casino at its core, but equally let’s not smash the ex­ist­ing GC casino or the nu­mer­ous clubs who also play and have played a big part in the fab­ric of our great city. So, it’s a big, del­i­cate de­ci­sion.

Equally let’s have some healthy hon­est de­bate about the lo­ca­tion.

As I un­der­stand it, five have been sug­gested. A cou­ple of those fall into the TC cat­e­gory of: You are go­ing to build a world-class in­te­grated re­sort where? Stop it, you’re killing me. Such stu­pid­ity, are you a clown?

Ma­jor re­sorts are all about lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion. Get that com­po­nent right in a stun­ning set­ting and you are half way there.

Get it wrong (Scar­bor­ough St?) and it’s born dead be­fore it even calls first round of drinks.

Now on this sub­ject we are lucky, be­cause the re­spon­si­ble over­all State Min­is­ter is one of the most ca­pa­ble politi­cians, not only in the State but in Aus­tralia – full stop. Kate Jones is a ter­rific politi­cian, clear thinker, vi­sion­ary and truly in­vested in the Gold Coast.

So, I have great hope that her over­all guid­ance here will land on the right con­clu­sion. No pres­sure Kate.

We get one chance at this and I’m sorry, but we need to ab­so­lutely make it a bil­lion­dol­lar bulls­eye! We need all the smart people in the room and we need to get the clowns and non-vi­sion­ar­ies to clear the room on this crit­i­cal Gold Coast once-in20-year de­ci­sion.

LET’S KEEP OUR OP­TIONS OPEN TO ANY COURA­GEOUS CON­CEPT OF THIS FULLY IN­TE­GRATED RE­SORT.

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