Revealed: Plan to save the Gold Coast’s economy
QUEENSLAND and national heavyweights say the Gold Coast has an "incredible" opportunity to lead all facets of society from the dark haze of the coronavirus pandemic.
Fewer Australian cities have been hit harder by the worst health crisis in 100 years. Our tourism, small business and education engine rooms have been ravaged by the closure of domestic and international borders, and thousands of workers are on federal government subsidies.
However, leaders and experts across all sectors are adamant the Gold Coast has positioned itself to be a powerhouse in the pandemic recovery.
Social researcher Mark McCrindle said the Gold Coast had an "incredible opportunity" to not only reset, but prosper, in the COVID aftermath.
"This is a reset of everything from business to priorities, relationships, health and liveability," Mr McCrindle said.
"For the Gold Coast, there will be good times as we readjust. Data shows 50 per cent of Australians are reconsidering the suitability of their current housing situation because of COVID and it will be the lifestyle cities which will be the net beneficiaries."
Mayor Tom Tate said the Gold Coast was a city of opportunity that had boundless possibilities ahead with an increasingly diversified economy. However, it came with a proviso - we must act now.
"Gold Coasters are resilient and what I have witnessed is a business community that has been agile and quick to adapt, and a community that has come together to support one another. The Gold Coast have-a-go spirit is alive and well.
"We are not only a bold city but we are also a safe city - which is more important than ever - and makes us one of the most desirable places in Australia and even the world, to live and invest.
"So as our reputation as a young dynamic city, rich in physical beauty and enviable lifestyle, continues to increase, we need to continue to diversify our economy, plan for our growing city and to ensure critical infrastructure is in place."
Over the next two weeks the Gold Coast Bulletin's Future Gold Coast (Reset) series will investigate the exciting opportunities presented by a post-COVID dawn, why the city's reputation and lifestyle have been enhanced throughout the crisis, and what we need to do in the next two years to be a lamp lighter in the global recovery.
The initiative, led by key city stakeholders, will dissect the tourism, education, lifestyle, small business, construction, manufacturing, real estate, technology, sport, entertainment, arts and health industries.
It will explore the many opportunities for each of those sectors to accelerate quickly from the shadow of COVID and establish a platform to prosper in the decades following.
Moncrieff MP Angie Bell and other city leaders detailed key issues to help revamp the economy out of the pandemic-induced downturn in the City Heart Taskforce's Reimagine Gold Coast report.
* The creation of an apolitical economic advocacy body to work across all three levels of government to secure and fast-track major job-creating projects such as light rail Stage 4 to the airport.
* The regeneration of Surfers Paradise under a masterplan being developed by the Gold Coast City Council.
Ms Bell said a significant re-sell of the city's most famous suburb would bring a long-overdue facelift, create new jobs and businesses and give tourists a reason to visit.
"The regeneration of Surfers Paradise is really important because it is the face of the Gold Coast and I am working with stakeholders including Destination Gold Coast to ensure we can have a new tourism product to market to the world," she said.
"There are a number of Gold Coasts around the world but there is only one Surfers Paradise and this is why it is so important to regenerate it.
"It must be a destination that people want to come to, stay longer and have more activities to enjoy."
Gold Coast theme parks were forced to close for months as a result of the pandemic but are bouncing back. The entire tourism market is hopeful of the Queensland border being opened to greater Sydney at the end of the month.
With up to three new rides expected to be open in 2021, Village Roadshow says it is already looking at opportunities for more attractions.
The closure of international and intrastate borders as a result of the pandemic brought the record-breaking migration to the Gold Coast to a screaming halt in March.
While overall numbers are not expected to bounce back for up to five years, there are already encouraging signs that the post-COVID migration figures will be larger than those forecast by Treasury in early 2019.
Some agents are conducting virtual tours while others have sold multi-million properties sight-unseen.
Cr Tate said it was critical that major projects such as the light rail extension and Coomera Connector highway advance quickly.
"We know that many residents of southern states, so desperate to secure their piece of paradise, are buying properties site unseen," he said.
"They are ready to pack up and move to the Gold Coast as soon as conditions allow.
"We must continue to work hard to ensure that both the state and federal governments invest in our city, to provide the vital infrastructure that will fast track our recovery."
Originally published as Revealed: Plan to save the Gold Coast's economy