Queensland had a rough start to 2011 with tropical cyclones and floods ripping through the state, but the year looks set to end on a bright note, with Gold Coast, Australia’s sixth largest city, winning the right to hold the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
But is it worth the cost?
The city out-muscled Sri Lanka’s Hambantota overnight, by 43 votes to 27, to become the fifth Australian city after Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne to host what was once known as, the British Empire Games.
The Queensland state government says the event will add $2billion to the economy, with $500million now to be invested on sport and transport infrastructure. 30,000 full-time jobs may be created in the Gold Coast alone between 2015 and 2020 as a result.
Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan said financial guarantees have been given so that the Games could go ahead given the global economic slowdown, and while it would add a cost to the federal budget, he wouldn’t give any numeric details.
It’s understood $1.1billion of debt will come with the Games, with tax payers’ share coming to around 56 per cent of the proposed $2billion budget.
Experts say these major sporting events rarely reaped economic events across the country. Brisbane, which hosted the 1982 Games barely uses the near 50,000 capacity QEII stadium for events these days.
But what the games do, is add to the nation’s “happines”. Australians are naturally a proud bunch, so the right to stage the event will be worn as a badge of honour.
No doubt Queensland Premier Anna Bligh will run with this positive sentiment as she heads to the polls early next year.
The games will no doubt bring an influx of tourists to the country, and Gold Coast which has under performed the rest of the state which is enjoying a resources boom.
One of the city’s major revenue resources comes from tourists, and the higher Australian dollar is making it harder for them to visit.
Hopefully, the 2018 Games will also repair Australia’s tainted brand image.
A survey by FutureBrand ranked Australia at number 5, down from number 2, when it came to brand perception. Canada came out on top, followed by Switzerland, New Zealand and Japan.
3500 international business and leisure travellers from 14 countries were surveyed, measuring a country’s brand strength based on six attributes including awareness, familiarity, preferences, consideration, advocacy and active decisions to visit.
The high Australian dollar and Australia’s distance from the rest of the world were the main issues with its brand, but also popping up in the survey was the Queensland floods, which highlighted Australia as a place where some disasters occur.
With the Gold Coast winning the right to host the Commonwealth Games in 2018, the state has the chance to add value to the rest of the nation, and help build Australia’s brand, not just in 2018, but in the lead up to the event.
I for one am a proud Aussie, and love anything that puts us in the global limelight. I’m also due for a visit to the sunshine state, to do my part for its economy, but not for the beaches (I’m a Bondi guy) but for the theme parks (I’m a kid at heart).