Australia’s Gold Coast is expecting a significant boost in tourism ahead of the Commonwealth Games in April, 2018.
Tourism officials estimate that more than 100,000 visitors will visit the Gold Coast tourist strip and bring in over US$1.54 billion to the local economy.
This is in addition to the over 6,600 athletes and team officials expected from the 70 Commonwealth nations and territories participating in the Games.
Interest in the Games is being coupled with renewed interest in the area as a holiday destination, with overnight domestic visits rising 14.3% from a year ago.
Tourism generates over 17% of the region’s gross product, but it suffered a large blow in October 2016 following a fatal accident at a popular Dreamworld theme park.
Statistics suggest, however, that the dip was temporary, with Gold Coast Tourism CEO Martin Winter commenting that many accommodation providers were reporting 90% occupancy for the high-yielding summer period.
Tourism Australia says the upcoming Games are the largest ever international sporting event hosted by the Gold Coast, and the biggest staged in Australia for a decade.
Major events are significant drivers of visitors to Australia, with around19% of the 8.7 million visitors to the country last year attending a festival, cultural or sporting event during the their stay.
Many hotels are anticipating full occupancy throughout April due to the Easter peak period and school holidays leading into the Games, increasing employment rates as well as gross regional income.
Demand has inevitably pushed up rates in the area, particularly during the contest on April 4-15, 2018.
Gold Coast Tourism is therefore working with operators to encourage fair practices that benefit both the community and visitors.
The Gold Coast already accommodates 13 million visitors a year, but $1.6 billion worth of rail, road, bus and venue upgrades have also been completed to ensure the event runs smoothly in all aspects.
Whilst most preparations for the Games have been met with enthusiasm, however, one provision has been criticised by some.
The Commonwealth Games guidebook has been published and issued to the 15,000 volunteers, staff and contractors for the Games, with instructions included on avoiding gender-specific terms.
The handbook, entitled Game Shapers, encourages gender-neutral terms such as “parents” and “partner” instead of “mother and father” and “wives or boyfriends”.
It has also urged people not to describe para-athletes as “superhuman” or “extraordinary” to avoid exaggerating differences.
Shadow Minister for the Queensland Opposition John-Paul Landbroek criticised the list of instructions as excessive political correctness that would cause unnecessary tensions for Games volunteers and workers.
Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation Chief Executive Mark Peters defended the guidelines as a response to concerns from some volunteers about interacting with athletes and guests from different cultures and backgrounds.
He insisted they were not compulsory rules but a suggestion on how to handle confusion around issues of gender and impairment.
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