Bloomberg News

Gold Coast Games Win to Boost Australian Economy, Bligh Says

November 13, 2011

(Adds Treasurer Swan’s comment in seventh paragraph.)

Nov. 12 (Bloomberg) -- The Australian city of Gold Coast will host the 2018 Commonwealth Games in a win that could boost the economy by A$2 billion ($2.1 billion), according to the Queensland state government.

Gold Coast won 43 votes, beating the Sri Lanka port city of Hambantota with 27, the Commonwealth Games Federation announced today in St. Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean. It will be the fifth Australian city to host the multisport event featuring teams from 71 countries and territories.

“Over A$500 million will now be invested on sport and transport infrastructure,” Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said in a statement today. The Games could generate up to 30,000 full time-equivalent jobs for Gold Coast, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) southeast of Queensland state’s capital, Brisbane, between 2015 and 2020, she said.

Gold Coast’s visitor-driven economy, along with the rest of Australia’s A$94 billion tourism industry, has been hard hit by the global slowdown and a local currency that reached $1.1081 on July 27, the highest since 1983. The city is failing to see much benefit from the nation’s mining and related businesses boom, highlighting the dilemma of a two-speed economy.

“We all know, and the Gold Coast knows particularly, that we have a patchwork economy,” Treasurer Wayne Swan told reporters in Brisbane today. “So the Gold Coast has been not in the fast lane with the resources boom and we know the higher dollar has been a restraint on our great tourism industry, on the Gold Coast and in many other parts of the country. So this is a real shot in the arm for the tourism industry.”

Beaches, Theme Parks

The government estimates Australia’s pipeline of resource investment at A$430 billion, with about 40 percent of plans already at an advanced stage.

Since being proclaimed a city in 1959, Gold Coast has benefited from Australia’s rapid post-World War II economic expansion, with domestic and international tourists and migrants flocking to its beaches, warm climate and theme parks. It’s now the nation’s sixth-largest city with a population of 591,000 people, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Commonwealth member countries, in addition to major economies including India, Canada and Australia, include the African nations of South Africa and Nigeria, and Asian countries such as Malaysia and Singapore. Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, will host the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2013.

‘Disappointing’ Loss

Hambantota, on Sri Lanka’s south coast, was aiming to be the third Asian venue to hold the Games. Delhi was the host city for last year’s event and Kuala Lumpur the 1998 edition.

“It is disappointing” to lose the bid, Hambantota 2018 Organizing Committee Co-Chair Ajith Nivard Cabraal said in a separate statement. “We will make good our promise to rejuvenate the region regardless of this outcome.”

Hambantota will still become one of Sri Lanka’s five “metropolitan” cities, focusing on international investment and with a population forecast to reach 1.2 million by 2018, Cabraal said.

Gold Coast will follow Melbourne, which hosted the 2006 Commonwealth Games, as the latest Australian city to hold the event. Brisbane, Perth and Sydney have also staged it.

--Editor: Paul Tighe

To contact the reporter on this story: Jason Scott in Perth at jscott14@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Tighe at ptighe@bloomberg.net


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