Editor's Blog

Get set, Gold Coast

I have not been to Gold Coast, but I have seen it. And from where I was sitting – in a helicopter – it looked like the kind of place I’d happily spend 10 days watching other people play sport.

Next year the city hosts the 2018 Commonwealth Games and from 1,000ft (or thereabouts, I wasn’t counting) the prospects looked pretty darned good.

Below me I saw school children swimming in the sea, games of beach volleyball in full swing, and next to all this, a dazzling city of glass and steel built around canals and mangrove islands.

It was picture postcard Australia. Modern. Healthy. Prosperous.

It’s never quite like the postcard, of course. The idea that Australia is a country entirely populated by clean-living, health-and-fitness types, is spurious: in fact it has a serious health problem.

According to various organisations, including the WHO and the World Obesity Federation, Australia is one of the fattest nations in the developed world (small comfort - New Zealand is even fatter).

No doubt one of the Gold Coast’s legacy targets will be to increase sports participation in Queensland, but as previous games have demonstrated, that’s easier said than done.

Of course those involved in the business events sector have their own legacy in mind – and it includes raising the profile of Gold Coast as a place to hold international association meetings.

I suspect this will be easier than reducing the city’s waistline.

After all, in terms of the ‘delegate experience’ this is a city that, on paper, seems to have it all – a world class convention centre, cutting edge medical research facilities, and, via close neighbour Brisbane, international connectivity. Chuck in wonderful post-congress options, there’s 100,000 hectares of rainforest to explore for starters, and we’re there.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are being pumped into the city’s infrastructure ahead of the games, with new event space and upgraded venues, and Gold Coast Tourism CEO Martin Winters says the city is already experiencing renewed interest from meeting planners, particularly from sporting organisations.

"We’re in the best position now to take advantage of the international focus on the Gold Coast with a renewed offering for groups to meet here," he says. All of the new facilities being built will offer more choice for business events and the city is looking better than ever with extensive redevelopment of public spaces.”

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