With the Commonwealth Games kicking off on the Gold Coast this week and running until April 15, the spotlight is now on Australia and the state of Queensland.
“The Commonwealth Games gives us a good platform to showcase the Gold Coast and wider Queensland,” said Leanne Coddington, chief executive of Tourism and Events Queensland, when I met her in London last month.
“When Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) was held there in 2016, it opened the eyes to the trade, and we hope the Games will do the same.”
Coddington said the state is popular with repeaters and those visiting friends and family, but that those who think they know it well should think again.
“Queensland’s sand, surf and sun is the quintessential holiday, but things have evolved,” she said. “The Gold Coast is also a city in its own right, boasting an ideal coffee and cafe culture; a beautiful hinterland for nature; and theme parks. There’s a wide range of accommodation and we’re seeing a dynamic change in this city’s offering.”
Another city upping its game is Brisbane, which has become more reachable from the Gold Coast in time for the Games thanks to a new light rail network.
“Brisbane is a state capital with a difference,” said Coddington. “Its Cultural Precinct is home to the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, which hosts some great exhibitions, and the art scene is constantly growing in the city. It also embraces the weather as part of its lifestyle, with lots of rooftop bars, and the East Street Market on the river has transformed disused sea containers into an outdoor street food market.”
Coddington hopes to work with the trade to boost knowledge of the city.
New product on Brisbane’s horizon includes two riverside precincts filled with hotels, restaurants and casinos: the revitalised Howard Smith Wharves opens this year, while Queens Wharf is slated for 2022.
A range of hotels will pop up this year, including the Emporium Hotel on the South Bank, the country’s first W Hotel and the 286-room Westin Brisbane, opening in November.
Brisbane also offers enriching and educational experiences. The Spirits of the Red Sand experience takes clients on a journey through the 1800s to an Australian village. The interactive story is based on the true tale of an indigenous family (spiritsredsand.com).
From indigenous experiences to art and sport, Brisbane has many gems that stand well alongside Queensland’s crowning glories of the Gold Coast and the Great Barrier Reef.