Monday, January 16th, 2012
Mayoral candidate Susie Douglas says a radical departure from the Gold Coast’s traditional tourism marketing needs to be initiated if the city is to retain its mantle as a world-class destination.

Cr Douglas says if elected mayor she will instigate a new focus on business and convention tourism and personally take an active role in the promotion of the industry.

The Gold Coast saw a nine percent drop in international visitor numbers and an 11 percent drop in domestic visitors in the last financial year—something Cr Douglas says needs to be turned around.

“While there are many facets that support the Gold Coast economy, the tourism industry is certainly one of the foundations our city is built on,” she says.

“However our continued focus on traditional tourism is at our own peril, and ignores a market that is both highly lucrative and right under our noses.

“Business and convention tourism far outweighs leisure tourism in terms of economic benefit to the city and its time we took this market seriously.”

According to information supplied by Gold Coast Tourism, in the year to September 2011 business expenditure contributed $3.1 billion to the local economy while leisure expenditure contributed just $350 million.

The figures are based on surveys of visitors who state their purpose as either holiday or business.

Cr Douglas says as part of her tourism focus she would work closely with Gold Coast Tourism and the Gold Coast Convention Bureau to establish a database of available convention and meeting facilities to promote to national and international markets.

“We have in excess of 100,000sqm of meeting and convention space around the Gold Coast, that’s almost 15 football fields, but there’s no coordination of what we have or where it is,” Cr Douglas says.

“While over 60,000sqm is accounted for by the better known locations such as the Convention Centre, Royal Pines and Jupiters Casino, there are hundreds of smaller venues which can still cater for large conventions and business meetings.

“Knowing where this space is and when it is available is just the first step in being able to promote our facilities to this extremely important market.”

Cr Douglas says in addition to a coordinated business and convention tourism push, she would investigate establishing a number of outdoor function spaces around the coast for conference delegates to enjoy for cocktail and welcome functions.

“We need better utilisation of our public spaces, and what better way than opening them up to the convention market for functions to maximise their experience of the city,” she says.

“We have two of these spaces on the coast already, one at The Spit and one in Surfers Paradise, but a number of new ones could be established around the coast, including the hinterland, and become function centres in their own right.”

Cr Douglas says the Gold Coast’s mayor should also be a representative for the tourism industry domestically and internationally.

“I would personally like to see the mayor run a series of roadshows around Australia and in neighbouring countries,” she says.

“We need a hands-on approach to promoting what is one of our most important industries.”

In addition to looking at new tourism opportunities, Cr Douglas has indicated that tourism operators will get as much assistance as possible if she becomes mayor.

“I have ensured over the last seven years that Surfers Paradise has new and exciting tourism products to offer both Australia and the world,” she says.

“The Hilton, Soul and the newly redeveloped foreshore have all been parts of that strategy, but as mayor I would be looking right across the city to encourage tourism-focused development.”

With the Gold Coast’s announcement as the host city for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Cr Douglas says the city has a timeframe in which to do all it can to further build on its tourism capabilities.

“Obviously, we want to be increasing our tourism numbers well before the Commonwealth Games, however, that event will be one of our greatest opportunities to show the world what we have here,” Cr Douglas says.

“I want to ensure that we have set up as much tourism infrastructure by the Games so we can accommodate the influx of people, while allowing positive images of the Gold Coast to be televised around the world.

“These positive images will be what drives tourism after the Games have finished.

“While we have a history as a tourism city, we’re in danger of potentially losing that mantle.

“We can’t rest on our laurels and expect to continue as a tourism city if we don’t put some plans in place to grow the industry.”

Contact Profile

Bruce Nelson

P: +61 (0) 423 403 449


Susie Douglas, Gold Coast Mayoral Candidate, Gold Coast Tourism, Jupiters Casino, RACV Royal Pines Resort, business



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