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Gold Coast economy enjoying Commonwealth Games gold

Marshall Hall | April 2019

The Gold Coast economy is running strongly and collecting golden results a year after the city hosted the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

For 11 days in April 2018, the world watched in awe as more than 6600 athletes and team officials from 71 nations and territories converged on the Gold Coast for a magnificent spectacle of international sporting and cultural events.

The cost to host the event was not cheap, with the bill coming to $1.78 billion but a year after the final race was run and won, the economic benefits from the Games are still flowing to the city.

State Government figures reveal the Games will contribute $2.5 billion to the Queensland economy – with $1.8 billion of this impact on the Gold Coast – in the nine years to 2022.

The Games also attracted $5 billion in private sector developments, including the $200 million Gold Coast airport upgrade, $1 billion Jewel development and the $850 million upgrade of The Star at Broadbeach.

Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce President Martin Hall said the Commonwealth Games had significantly boosted the economy on the Gold Coast over a period of several years now.

“This is reflected by the low unemployment rate, strong levels of business confidence and strong property prices,’’ said Mr Hall.

“This was initially fuelled by the construction of the infrastructure needed for the Games and, since then, the international exposure and the infrastructure has allowed for further growth in the city.”

Luke Dixon, the Head of Real Estate Research for big investor AMP Capital, said the Gold Coast is an unusual market in that it is a regional city and yet benefits from incredible international exposure and investment.

AMP Capital owns Pacific Fair and invested $670 million redeveloping the flagship shopping centre in Broadbeach in the lead-up to the Games. The company also has several other commercial property investments in the city.

Mr Dixon said the demographic profile of the city is also changing rapidly. Where once in the 1970s and 1980s the Gold Coast was known as a retirement destination, that is changing.

“A lot of people who moved to the city in the 70s and 80s have stayed and this led to an increase in demand for aged care and health care services,’’ he said.

“This in turn has attracted a lot of younger professionals to move to the region in recent years and they are bringing their families. This quickly changed the profile of the city from an older population towards a much younger one.”

Gold Coast Zone Chairman of the Real Estate Institute of Queensland Andrew Henderson said the Gold Coast has a strong economic story to tell.

“Migration to the city is running strongly, with thousands of new residents moving to the city every year,” said Mr Henderson.

“Our population is now around 590,000 people and is growing by around 10,500 people a year.

“This means, based on the average household size of 2.6 people, that the city needs about an extra 4000 dwellings a year, simply to cater for that growth.

“Developers and builders are struggling to keep up with demand in the city.”

Mr Dixon said the city was also benefiting from its proximity to the Queensland capital, Brisbane.

“We are also seeing a lot of commuter families moving to the Gold Coast,’’ he said.

“The Gold Coast is seen as a less expensive place to buy a home so many people with jobs in Brisbane are buying homes on the Gold Coast and commuting to work each day.

“This has led the Gold Coast to be the fastest growing city in Australia and there is potential for the northern corridor to add another 50,000-60,000 residents over the next 10 years.”

Mr Dixon said the population growth and the shift towards a younger population was a good sign for retailers, other businesses and the regional economy.

“There has been particularly strong population growth in the 20-40 years age bracket,” he said. “People in those age brackets are traditionally bigger spenders than those in their retirement years and that increase in spending will have flow-on effects for the city’s economy as a whole.

Planit Consulting managing director Boyd Sargeant said the 2018 Commonwealth Games had created the opportunity for further growth.

“The infrastructure built for the games should provide long-run benefits for our city’s economy,’’ said Mr Sargeant.

“We are seeing growth in the education, health and knowledge sectors as well as in the arts community.

“The city now also enjoys a significantly greater international recognition even when it was previously recognised as an international tourism hotspot.”

Mr Sargeant said the Gold Coast Health & Knowledge Precinct, which was home to the Games Village, would continue to attract businesses and generate jobs.

“The health and knowledge precinct is forecast to create another 16,000 jobs for the city by the time it is fully developed in 10–15 years’ time,’’ said Mr Sargeant.

“The Athletes Village itself has been transformed into a $550 million mixed use residential community called the Smith Collective.”

Since the Commonwealth Games the number of international students studying on the Gold Coast has grown to 17,000, with students from 130 countries students choosing the city for their higher education.

The city also continues to attract significant national and international events, hosting Eurovision Australia decides and the TV Week Logie Awards in the months after the Games, with the Gold Coast Marathon selling out for the first time in history in 2018.

Mr Hall said the city’s reputation as an international hub for film and television productions was on the rise.

“The largest sound stage in the southern hemisphere was built in Movie World at Oxenford to be used as a sporting venue during the Games and is now attracting producers of big budget movies,” said Mr Hall.

“Since the Games the city has attracted a number of major film productions including Aquaman, Dora the Explorer, Godzilla vs Kong and Reef Break.”

Luke Dixon said there was still significant opportunity for further diversification in the city’s economy.

“The Gold Coast has consistently outperformed Brisbane on an employment basis and the divergence between the two cities has widened in recent years,” he said.

“Department of Jobs and Small Business’ five-year growth projections place Gold Coast in the 96th percentile, with growth of 10.9 per cent.

“This places it behind only Sydney City and Inner South; Parramatta; Inner Melbourne; and Ipswich in terms of jobs growth.

“However, I think there are some industry sectors which offer real opportunities for the city.

“I see significant opportunities for growth in the ICT, health care, education, finance, professional services and transport industries.”

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