Exclusive: Planners told risk of Games trading slump last July
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”.