Gold Coast Tourism have been working on a post-Games strategy since 2016 in order not to repeat the mistakes of other cities that have basked in the international sporting spotlight only to see a slump after the event has finished.
Major infrastructure such as the $5 billion G-link light rail network was built in anticipation of the Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct, an ambitious project to create one of the most advanced health and knowledge innovation hubs in the Asia-Pacific.
Now the athletes have left the Commonwealth Games Village work has begun on transforming it into an innovation hub as part of the $550 million Health and Knowledge legacy project. The new precinct is located with the Gold Coast University Hospital, the new Gold Coast Private Hospital and Griffith University, forming a unique 200-hectare high-tech hub.
“Perhaps the greatest legacy of the Commonwealth Games is what we’re doing to make the Gold Coast one of the world’s leading hubs for innovation in the health and knowledge sector,” says Minister for Innovation and the Commonwealth Games Kate Jones.
“We know that the innovation, technology and health sectors are where the jobs will be in the next 10 to 20 years. That’s why we’ve used billions of dollars in Commonwealth Games legacy funding to create the jobs of the future right here on the Gold Coast.”
Jones says she would continue to work with Griffith University to maximise the legacy of the Commonwealth Games.
“Without the Games and the infrastructure we’ve been able to deliver on the Coast, projects like this would not be possible,” she says.
Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick says the precinct has the potential to become a world-class biomedical and health technology advancement and research centre, housing some of Australia’s leading scientists, research institutes and facilities.
“The Precinct is one of the biggest and most exciting legacy investments for the Games, and is expected to support 26,000 full-time jobs once fully developed and occupied,” he says.
Dick says work was underway between his Department and precinct partners to facilitate development agreements with both global and local health and knowledge businesses which complemented the specialised health, research and innovation activities of surrounding facilities.
“We expect the precinct will feature a range of large and small health and knowledge businesses which will seek to either build and own their own facilities or to co-locate,” he says.
It isn’t just big ticket infrastructure that is benefitting, with individual venues and accommodation providers also looking to capitalise on the post-Games buzz.
The new build 120-room Mantra at Sharks is located in the heart of the precinct and is looking forward to catering to the influx of health and medical professionals in both their accommodation and meetings needs, with its Sharks Events Centre catering for 10 to 1000 guests. The hotel and venue is also looking to make the most of Southport Sharks association with Hockey Australia.
“Given that the Gold Coast Hockey Centre was only eight minutes walking distance from the venue it was fitting that Sharks was the official Hockey Hub,” says sales and events manager Kristie Powell. “The official Hockey After Party was held within the events centre, and we also hosted the Uganda Official Welcome Function.
“The exposure, particularly to a hockey audience and associations, and being able to showcase our proximity from an international venue for future domestic and international tournaments, is a great opportunity for us.”
The Darling, the Gold Coast’s first six-star hotel, opened in March, marking the start of a proposed $850 million upgrade and expansion of The Star’s Broadbeach property. The new 17-storey hotel forms the centrepiece of The Star Gold Coast’s landmark transformation and features 57 suites ranging in size from 70sqm to 328sqm.
“The Darling positions The Star Gold Coast at the premium end of the market and ensures the Gold Coast has an even more compelling value proposition as we seek to compete on a global scale for domestic and international visitors,” says The Star Entertainment Group managing director Queensland Geoff Hogg.
At the top of the hotel, The Darling has taken dining and entertainment to new heights with Nineteen at The Star, a new rooftop restaurant and bar combining the talents of acclaimed Gold Coast restaurateur Simon Gloftis and entertainment leader Billy Cross. It’s also the home to Australia’s most expensive wagyu steak. The prized Kiwami wagyu beef costs $450 a kilo and Nineteen at The Star is the only restaurant in Australia to stock it.
Leveraging the momentum of the Games, the Gold Coast global business events team has secured 43 business events expected to attract over 22,450 delegates in coming years. Another 19 meetings are awaiting decision in the bidding and development stage, with the potential to secure an additional 7500 delegates for the city.
According to Anna Case, director of global business events, the Games have enhanced the appeal of the city for business events, with new infrastructure delivering more options for gala dinners, large exhibitions and themed off site events.
“The Gold Coast really is ready to shine on the global stage and there’s never been a better time to meet here,” she says.
Sports, health and wellness conferences are on the rise, with an increase in sport related and allied health associations confirmed to meet post Games.
In the line-up is the sixth bi-annual Global Wave Conference (GWC), which is heading to Coolangatta in 2020. The major surfing conference is expected to attract up to 400 experts from around the world.
“Gold Coast will be such an exciting venue for the 6th biannual held the week before the World Surfing League world tour event at Snapper Rocks and in the year that surfing is introduced into the Olympics for the first time,” says GWC executive director Nik Strong Cvetich.
Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve chairman Andrew McKinnon, who travelled to Santa Cruz to present the successful bid, welcomes the announcement.
“This will be a hugely significant year for surfing and riding the Olympic wave of momentum,” he says. “I say go for gold. Go for the Gold Coast. See you in 2020.”
The Commonwealth Games arts and culture program, Festival 2018, will add a further layer to the legacy. The association with Festival 2018 has ensured the Gold Coast’s annual Bleach* Festival has been elevated to a new level of world-class arts and entertainment, while new venues including Night Quarter and Miami Marketta are leading the way with integrated food and entertainment. For the Gold Coast things have only just started.