THEY KNEW

Ex­clu­sive: Plan­ners told risk of Games trad­ing slump last July

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - KIRSTIN PAYNE

THE Gold Coast City Coun­cil was told last July that traders would face a tough time dur­ing the Com­mon­wealth Games, but key busi­ness lead­ers say they were never told.

A Grif­fith Univer­sity Busi­ness School re­port, launched pub­licly in July 2017, warned non-tourism busi­nesses to brace for a 40 per cent slump dur­ing the Games.

An over­whelm­ing num­ber of traders have re­ported dis­mal Easter and Games tak­ings. “It is hard, we were told to get be­hind the ad­vice we were given at the time,” said Gold Coast Cen­tral Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­i­dent Martin Hall, who first read the re­port yes­ter­day. “There was no se­cret about what they told us about pre­pared­ness, to ar­range ear­lier de­liv­er­ies and get ready for a large amount of peo­ple.”

Coun­cil yes­ter­day ad­mit­ted it was aware of the re­port, but de­clined to an­swer ques­tions on how the study was used in Games plan­ning or com­mu­ni­ca­tions with busi­nesses.

In­stead, it di­rected the Bul­letin back to Grif­fith Univer­sity.

GOLD Coast City Coun­cil was warned a year ago of a down­turn in trade dur­ing the Com­mon­wealth Games, as part of a de­tailed re­port into the im­pacts and op­por­tu­ni­ties of the event.

The Grif­fith Univer­sity Busi­ness School re­port, re­leased pub­licly in July 2017, high­lighted a risk the “mega-event” would “fail to gen­er­ate ad­di­tional em­ploy­ment or in­come ben­e­fits” in the short to medium term, and de­ter lo­cals, which would have “a dele­te­ri­ous im­pact on lo­cal spend­ing in the Gold Coast re­gion”.

The Gold Coast Busi­ness and the Com­mon­wealth Games: Im­pact, Legacy and Op­por­tu­nity

re­port also es­ti­mated non­tourism busi­nesses could ex­pect a de­crease in de­mand by up to 40 per cent.

While Get Set for the Games rep­re­sen­ta­tives and city coun­cil­lors were present at the launch and a sub­se­quent panel dis­cus­sion of the re­port, busi­nesses say they were not in­formed of the find­ings and in­stead en­cour­aged to ex­pect large crowds.

An­gry busi­nesses that paid for ex­tra staff and stock have al­ready threat­ened a class ac­tion to re­coup the costs.

The coun­cil has con­firmed it was aware of the re­port, but de­clined to an­swer Bul­letin ques­tions on how the re­veal­ing study was used in Games plan­ning or com­mu­ni­ca­tions with busi­nesses. Get Set for the Games is a coun­cil-run agency.

In­stead, the City of Gold Coast di­rected the Bul­letin back to Grif­fith Univer­sity.

“In the lead up to GC2018, busi­nesses were en­cour­aged not only to plan ahead and think about how they will op­er­ate dur­ing the Games, but also how they might take best ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­nity,” a coun­cil spokesman said.

Cr Gary Bail­don, who at­tended the event, di­rected the

Bul­letin back to the univer­sity. “I only at­tended the launch and have had no in­volve­ment since,” Cr Bail­don said.

Dr Joan Car­lini, co-au­thor of the re­port com­mis­sioned by the Friends of the Grif­fith Busi­ness School, said the re­port was shared with busi­nesses and stake­hold­ers to en­sure po­ten­tial im­pacts and op­por­tu­ni­ties were known.

“In the con­text of some of the Games mes­sag­ing to busi­nesses, I don’t know if the (re­port) learn­ings got car­ried across,” Dr Car­lini said.

“There was not very much in­for­ma­tion on how busi­ness will be af­fected by the Com­mon­wealth Games at the time, so we had a look at other ma­jor events to make a com­par­i­son in the con­text of the Gold Coast while speak­ing with ex­perts in the area,” Dr Car­lini said.

“Long-term we found Games in­vest­ments ben­e­fit cities’ fu­tures, but busi­ness in past Games is not al­ways go­ing to be what peo­ple ex­pect it was go­ing to be in the im­me­di­ate term.”

Her co-au­thor, Pro­fes­sor An­drew O’Neil, said the pat­tern was a lit­tle more telling in Aus­tralia. “Aus­tralians seem to be par­tic­u­larly op­ti­mistic around sport­ing events.”

Gold Coast Cen­tral Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­i­dent Martin Hall said he was not in­formed about the re­port, nor the find­ings by coun­cil.

“Get Set for the Games should have em­braced more of these find­ings,” Mr Hall said.

Af­ter read­ing the re­port for the first time yes­ter­day, Mr Hall said the writ­ing was clearly on the wall for small to medium size busi­nesses.

“It is hard, we were told to get be­hind the ad­vice we were given at the time,” he said.

“There was no se­cret about what they told us about pre­pared­ness, to ar­range ear­lier de­liv­er­ies and get ready for a large amount of peo­ple.”

Des­ti­na­tion Gold Coast spokesman Dean Gould said the or­gan­i­sa­tion was aware of the re­port. Fore­casts and op­por­tu­ni­ties “were shared reg­u­larly with mem­bers in the months lead­ing up to the Games”.

“In­for­ma­tion from that re­port, and sev­eral other sources, was in­cluded in in­dus­try brief­ings to the tourism sec­tor in 2017 and 2018,” he said.

The Busi­ness School re­port did how­ever pre­dict op­por­tu­ni­ties from the Games, stat­ing “tan­gi­ble eco­nomic ben­e­fits tend to be re­alised over the longer term”.

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