When it was announced that the Commonwealth Games were to be hosted on the Gold Coast, the locals were proud and excited at the opportunity to showcase to the world, our pristine beaches, talented entertainers, delicious food and friendly people – we were told that there would be disadvantages, but only being warned about long traffic queues, told to work from home or encouraged to get out of town.
We listened obediently to our politicians and the games organisers, moving out of the way to allow for the influx of tourists that were promised to fill our restaurants, splash their cash at Pacific Fair, support our small retailers and upload their Gold Coast pictures to social media, helping our tourism industry; it all sounded wonderful for the local economy.
However, as the games drew nearer reality set in. As tickets to events remained unsold, hotels displayed vacant signs and road traffic decreased locals became dismayed at the lack of crowds and embarrassed, that was before realising that England had been listed as an ‘African’ nation in the official opening ceremony program.
Businesses have started crying for help in the media, as they experience their worst sales on record and we must also not forget about their staff. Many of these young hospitality and retail workers who had their hours cut, or were let go, because there were no customers to serve.
There are people who have poured their savings into creating events to entertain the crowds, all under false pretences delivered by GOLDOC, Mayor Tom Tate and the State Government who led us to believe that tourism and businesses would prosper.
Instead, Gold Coasters are describing the Games as an “economic disaster,” with one small business owner telling me “we’re screwed.”
Where is our Queensland Small Business Minister, the Honourable Shannon Fentiman? She appears to be as missing in action as Borobi was at the opening ceremony. Or maybe she has taken Tom Tate’s advice and gone on holiday.
Meanwhile, many other Australians wished that another Queensland politician had left the country after she claimed to be indigenous whilst condemning the amount of Aboriginal content in the opening ceremony. They even had a dig at the unsuspecting Hip-Hop artist from the Torres Strait because they couldn’t understand what he was rapping – they should have been more polite and asked him to ‘please explain’.
Cafes may not be brewing their usual amounts of coffee, but fights have started brewing between local businesses that bought services and products from one another, now all wasted and unsold.
Refunds on these purchases are now being demanded and threats of legal action to sue businesses for false advertising of undelivered customer crowds and sales, are souring once profitable relationships.
They are ultimately pointing the finger at GOLDOC and politicians, who promised a surge in customers and preached to us to “Get set for the Games”. The sheer incompetence of those in charge of promoting and organising this world event has had a detrimental effect within the local business-to-business community and dividing it.
But let’s just watch the politicians and GOLDOC put their marketing ‘spin’ on it, to save face, as they start spruiking about the thousands of people who will visit the Gold Coast after the Commonwealth Games.
Yes, we have heard that line before.
Federal Gold Coast MP and Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister, Steven Ciobo, has said that the Gold Coast is expected to receive a $1.7 billion injection into its economy as a result of the Games, with people from overseas visiting us. The one problem is that people in overseas Commonwealth countries, have said that they did not even know the Games were on, let alone where the Gold Coast is.
Furthermore, on Saturday Night in Broadbeach the only accents I heard were Aussie ones with minimal international tourists in sight; in fact, people are saying that Byron Bay and the Sunshine Coast are booming. I hope Mr Ciobo isn’t using the same economist as GOLDOC.
What makes matters worse and cuts deep, is the utter lack of empathy and compassion for these hurting Gold Coasters, from the likes of our Mayor Tom Tate, and GOLDOC Chairman Peter Beattie who have washed their hands off the problems and still refuse to take even an ounce of responsibility…but they will take their big pay packets and use their special travel vehicles and Games’ road lanes.
Tom Tate has arrogantly told our businesses, “…for those ones not making it, have a good look at your own product” and that they should “get out and market” themselves.
But was he too busy polishing his Mayoral necklace, in an attempt to impress Prince Charles and the Duchess, to even notice that there were no people to ‘market to?’
I have been informed by some businesses that they were under strict instruction from GOLDOC not to use the term “Commonwealth Games” in their promotional activities and in some cases, businesses were told not to advertise at all.
I hope Tom Tate follows his own advice and has a good look at the ‘product’ he is selling at the next Council elections.
After being confronted by media asking questions about the hardship that the Carrara Food & Wine Festival organisers were facing, all that Peter Beattie could s
ay was “It’s got nothing to do with us” and “We’ve not sought to disadvantage them in any way.” However, after attending the festival myself, that’s exactly what it looked like.
I have watched GOLDOC staff and police direct thousands of Games’ attendees to walk on the opposite side of the road from the Festival, as they left Carrara Stadium; this is after the event organiser had been told that the 700,000 people attending events in the Carrara Precinct would be at their entrance and walking right past.
I call on Tom Tate and Peter Beattie to attend the Food & Wine Festival and see the situation for themselves and I dare them to speak to the 45+ angry stall holders, some who may now be faced with bankruptcy or will struggle to financially support their families.
I wonder if our Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull popped in to support the Southport retailers as he attended the swimming. After his grim start to the week, I would have thought that he’d be getting tips at the Pole Vault events; it’s only a short walk to the Food & Wine Festival from there.
But could we really expect anything better from the Games’ organisers who did not allow our Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to speak at the opening or closing ceremonies?
Was our top elected Queensland representative told to sit down and be quiet?
Nevertheless, with the negative press circulating and locals sharpening their knives, she’s probably glad that Peter ‘not-so-smart-state’ Beattie and Tom ‘travel-junket’ Tate, foolishly took all the limelight for themselves.
If anything good can be said about the 2018 Commonwealth Games, it’s that at least our athletes have done us proud. However, I hope they have checked their medals because all that glitters, may not be gold.
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