Which games will the GC en­ter­tain?

The Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS -

THE Gold Coast is poised to make some crit­i­cal choices on its next tourism wave. This is the flow-on from the Com­mon­wealth Games. Will the city choose sport­ing or casino games?

New re­search re­leased by the State Gov­ern­ment shows the legacy of the Games is kick­ing in with more than 90 ma­jor events booked next year for venues, which will eclipse this year’s to­tal of 160.

Coun­cil data shows that ex­clud­ing the Games, ma­jor events and train­ing camps hosted in city venues in the past two years have gen­er­ated more than $33 mil­lion to the lo­cal econ­omy.

New Des­ti­na­tion Gold Coast CEO An­naliese Bat­tista re­cently briefed coun­cil­lors and gave a glow­ing tourism re­port card for the Glit­ter Strip.

In the past year the Coast has had un­prece­dented global ex­po­sure to about 1.5 bil­lion peo­ple, record in­vest­ment and close to 12 mil­lion vis­i­tors.

Ms Bat­tista rat­tled off other records – 158 con­fer­ences were hosted bring­ing in $106 mil­lion, in­ter­na­tional ex­pen­di­ture was up 11 per cent and do­mes­tic ex­pen­di­ture re­mained solid in­creas­ing by al­most four per cent.

On the road ahead, she sug­gested ev­ery­thing was about a “spring­board off post-Games mo­men­tum”.

Part of this will be to build on ma­jor sport­ing events – Gold Coast Marathon or­gan­is­ers this week an­nounced a record 28,000 par­tic­i­pants from more than 50 coun­tries are ex­pected next July.

An­other is cre­at­ing what Ms Bat­tista re­ferred to as the “art-cul­ture-mu­sic nar­ra­tive” – ob­vi­ously this is the story around HOTA at Evan­dale.

The un­known and un­spo­ken fac­tor in all of this is the Palaszczuk Gov­ern­ment’s plans for a global tourism hub, cre­at­ing some des­per­ately needed fresh new in­fra­struc­ture with­out ask­ing tax­pay­ers for more money.

State bu­reau­crats in their lat­est up­date to coun­cil­lors on the tourism hub re­mained be­hind closed doors, the re­port on grey pa­pers, kept con­fi­den­tial.

Sev­eral sources across coun­cil and gov­ern­ment con­firm there has been dis­cus­sion about spe­cific po­ten­tial sites.

The Gov­ern­ment main­tains it does not have a list but we know from meet­ing min­utes that coun­cil­lors wanted to rule out pub­lic lands – this sug­gests sev­eral Crownowned sites, in­clud­ing the favourite Carey Park in front of Aus­tralia Fair.

Mean­while, other strongly aligned LNP coun­cil­lors are poised to ex­press their op­po­si­tion to more poker ma­chines.

Tourism Min­is­ter Kate Jones in State Par­lia­ment in Au­gust gave a guar­an­tee that the global tourism hub op­er­a­tor would have to source pok­ies from the ex­ist­ing pool of ma­chines. Many doubt this is prac­ti­cal.

Look at the broader pic­ture. The Gov­ern­ment wants to move for­ward quickly to de­velop The Spit mas­ter­plan. Black Swan Lake at Bun­dall is about to be filled. Both have filled Face­book com­mu­nity page de­bate so some­thing must fill the void.

The city’s next hottest de­bate will be the pok­ies.

Main Beach As­so­ci­a­tion leader David Hut­ley this week launched a pe­ti­tion to Par­lia­ment which states “the Gold Coast does not want, or need, an­other casino”.

The blurb says the Coast had the sec­ond-high­est num­ber of poker ma­chines in Queens­land, three times more than Vic­to­ria and 40 per cent higher than Syd­ney and more pok­ies will kill off 30 clubs.

“I don’t think per­son­ally that a casino brings in a lot of peo­ple,” Mr Hut­ley said. “Peo­ple don’t change coun­tries to play poker ma­chines. I’m think­ing of do­ing a bill­board up on the high­way on the Gold Coast.”

Cab­i­net was sup­posed to make a de­ci­sion last month which could have led to pos­i­tive pub­lic­ity about up to a dozen starters spruik­ing grand plans of a $2 bil­lion tourism hub, pos­si­bly none fea­tur­ing rooms for poker ma­chines but en­ter­tain­ment halls.

For the Gov­ern­ment, de­lay­ing on go­ing to mar­ket, it is just length­en­ing their odds of suc­cess.

The Gold Coast Marathon ex­pects to at­tract 28,000 en­tries next year.

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