Which games will the GC entertain?
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.