Crowds gathered for the Queen's Baton Relay on the Gold Coast last Tuesday.
Crowds gathered for the Queen's Baton Relay on the Gold Coast last Tuesday. Aisling Brennan

Has the Games brought us business gold?

IT WAS touted as one big party, but the Commonwealth Games has seen a mass exodus of Gold Coast residents.

Despite reports many of them have headed south to Byron Bay to avoid the crowds, tourism bodies are at odds about whether the games have brought golden opportunities to Northern NSW.

Destination North Coast NSW general manager Phil Harmen said he had heard mixed feelings from across the region.

But he said the event was positive for the Northern Rivers, although many residents have reportedly fled to Bali during the event.

"We had a specific campaign with booking partner Hotels which reached its target,” Mr Harmen said.

"We see the Commonwealth Games as a great legacy for the region.

"It's a great event right on our doorstep.

"It promotes the Gold Coast but we believe Northern NSW is a complementary product and we think it's a fantastic event for the region.”

He said the Commonwealth Games was also an opportunity to spread the word about much of the North Coast.

While the region's accommodation houses haven't been at 100 per cent capacity, Mr Harmen said it had been a generally positive few weeks, regardless of the games.

"Talking to quite a few tourism operators, Easter and Bluesfest... was actually a very strong period.”

Destination Byron vice president Jeremy Holmes, of Elements of Byron Resort, said while the Gold Coast had become a "ghost town” during the games, it was "disappointing” to see a limited flow-on effect south of the border.

"We're not noticing an influence of the Commonwealth Games,” Mr Holmes said.

"To be honest, it's been a bit of a disappointment because we thought, initially, it might be a great opportunity.”

While the Far North Coast has seen a strong Easter period in its own right, Mr Holmes believed some regular Easter travellers had refrained from heading to their usual haunt, fearing the monster traffic a large-scale government campaign had warned of.

"I'm told the Gold Coast, at the moment, it's a ghost town,” he said.

"People travelling through there are seeing (locals have) left over the Commonwealth Games.

"The shopping centres there are really struggling.

"I'm sure it would be different if the Commonwealth Games was held at the Tweed.

"The fact that it's in Queensland, they've really tried to put a wall up on the border and keep all the activity up in Queensland.”

Staggered NSW and Queensland school holidays combined with Easter and Bluesfest have, however, helped tourism vendors to tap into a longer peak period, Mr Holmes said.

He hoped domestic visitors to the games might stop by Byron and surrounds after leaving the event, but said this would mostly be in the form of day-trippers and might not translate into a spike in overnight stays.

Brunswick Heads Chamber of Commerce president Zac Tooth said the Commonwealth Games had "no noticeable effect” on their local economy, but he also noted a strong Easter period.

"In terms of accommodation I think we were all booked out for Easter,” Mr Tooth said.

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