THE Gold Coast City Council Budget was hailed a $1.3 billion infrastructure budget by finance boss Cr Eddie Sarroff.
But the two main arteries to the local economy – property development and tourism – have the most to lose.
In the past 12 months there has been a 47 per cent decrease in construction and a 7.8 per cent drop in tourism spend. Local government will commit just $162,000 to ‘identify new attractions’ in the once vociferous tourism sector.
While the rapid transit system has been hailed a landmark project given that all three tiers of government have hopped on board after the Federal Government pitched in $365 million, it will only benefit the northern end of the Coast. Stage one will run from Broadbeach to Griffith University.
At state level, Gold Coast Tourism CEO Martin Winter, has welcomed the Queensland Government’s commitment to increase tourism funding at a critical time.
“Confirmation of an additional $37.8 million over three years and an immediate $12.6 million for 2009-10 will lead the industry to increased marketing activity,
greater exposure and a boost to the confidence of tourism businesses at a time when it is needed most,” says Winter.
Domestic tourism figures by Tourism Research Australia reflect the challenges faced by tourism in 2008 and early 2009. More than 3.2 million domestic visitors (3,234,000) spent $2.8 billion ($2,795,000,000) on the Gold Coast during the 12 months to March 2009.
“The Gold Coast is regarded as Australia’s tourism litmus, the industry here has been fighting hard for the past 18 months and the worst of that period is reflected in these numbers,” says Winter.
“There are some very positive results within this reporting period though, the most significant being an extra 128,000 daytrip visitors coming to the Gold Coast and spending an additional $56 million compared to the same period
Gaven MP Alex Douglas, says the Gold Coast needs to be given priority.
“With the downturn of the property industry, tourism is crucial to our regional, state and national income,” says Douglas.
“Last year we had nine million visitors.
This is down from the peak of 2003-04 of over 9.8 million visitors. Interestingly, about 60 per cent of day trip visitors are within three hours driving distance of the Gold Coast.
“This means the increased petrol price due to Bligh’s removal of the fuel subsidy coupled with the plan also in New South Wales to remove their fuel subsidy – will lead to a significant fall in day tourists, especially from the southern region.
“I am concerned the Government isn’t giving the crown jewel of Queensland’s tourism the priority needed to keep the local economy stimulated.”
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