IF Wyndham Surfers Paradise is any indication, the end of the nightmare created by the light rail construction has led to a rapid revival for hotel operators in Surfers Paradise.
Wyndham says it has experienced an “occupancy boom” since work finished on the $1.2 billion light rail in Surfers Paradise at the start of July with occupancy reaching 90.5 per cent.
Wyndham says this has already exceeded its July targets by 30.5 per cent, with revenue for the month also beating expectations by 34 per cent.
But the boom appears to be isolated as a number of other hotels contacted by Gold Coast Business News say they have failed to notice any significant recovery due to the light rail.
Yet, all are upbeat about the benefits that are coming down the track – as is Surfers Paradise Alliance CEO Mike Winlaw.
Winlaw says while it is too early to look at trends, SPA has noted a boost in foot traffic through Surfers Paradise in the lead-up to the free public day for the light rail last Sunday.
Year-on-year, foot traffic surged 51 per cent through the tourism hub last Sunday, with figures up 26 per cent across the week.
“We had a stellar week and, in terms of Sunday, we expected it, but we are seeing a real upward trend,” Winlaw says.
Peter Yared, the Queensland area general manager for Grand Chancellor, says the group’s Surfers Paradise hotel has been running at a healthy occupancy all year, but he attributes this to the group’s offshore marketing initiatives.
“We’ve had a good month and a good year,” says Yared, who is also president of the Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce.
“We’re very active in the market in Singapore and Malaysia and that’s where we are getting our growth from.”
Yared says it’s too early to gauge the benefit of the light rail, but he says the completion of construction has been an obvious boost for the city’s tourism heart.
Yared says challenges remain, with domestic spending notably softer this year as consumers continue to show caution and restraint.
Marriott Surfers Paradise also reports no boost in occupancy following completion of the light rail.
However, Kelli Vettoretto, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing, says the Marriott is eying opportunities ahead, particularly for conference delegates who will have a direct link to the Gold Coast Convention Centre from the hotel.
Wyndham Surfers Paradise assistant resort manager Debbie Meffan says construction of the light rail created a “big disadvantage” for the property and for its neighbours at the southern end of Surfers Paradise.
“The noise was a big turn-off for a lot of people and we received quite a few complaints from guests, which prompted them to check out early,” she says.
“We even noticed that repeat clientele were starting to avoid us.
“It wasn’t until the major construction stopped that our customers started returning. Since then, the pace has picked up significantly and it’s a positive sign of what is to come.”
Meffan says the long-term benefits for the Gold Coast tourism industry “will far outweigh the hurdles we have faced”.
The Gold Coast light rail started paid passenger services on Monday with GoldLinQ reporting that 13,000 passengers boarded following a bumper 80,000 trips recorded on Sunday when travel was open to the public for free.
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