“Discussion around new tourism opportunities for the Gold Coast has unearthed some great ideas – a dive wreck off the coast, a cable car to Springbrook – both have merit, but aren’t we forgetting what’s already in front of us?

The Gold Coast has a highly diverse and authentic tourism offering. To create a sustainable tourism market that provides the most benefit to the city, we need to support our existing offering by celebrating and marketing it, reduce regulations for tourism operators to thrive, and inject money into public amenities such as civic space and public Wi-Fi.

Embracing our diverse and unique mix of tourism offerings would best support our local businesses and help to create memorable experiences for both locals and visitors.

After all, the appetite of global travellers is changing, and visitors want to experience a city the same way a local would.

So what are these experiences? Burleigh’s village markets, Miami Marketta, our heritage-listed hinterland trails, fine dining in Broadbeach, Palm Beach’s bustling café scene, Southport’s emerging laneway culture, stand up paddle boarding on Currumbin Creek, Bundall’s state-of-the-art cultural precinct HOTA, our Broadwater Parklands…The list goes on.

We know that great places with identity create attachment, sense of place, pride and greater involvement of people and business with their community. Think of Burleigh Hill on a Sunday afternoon.

So how do we support our great places?

We reduce red tape on liquor licencing and hours of operation within our coastal villages to support night-time trading and creation of viable boutique bars. The cultural and creative life of a city is enhanced by safe, inclusive and vibrant night-time economies.

We better integrate each of our inland and coastal villages to encourage our visitors travel further afield. Extension of light rail and possible introduction of a ferry service would improve tourism accessibility within our city.

We invest in public realm improvements, like public Wi-Fi. Outdoor piazzas and pedestrian streets provide an opportunity to create a sense of place and a variety of great experiences.

We focus on promoting local authentic tourism offerings rather than lobbying for investment into new ‘one-off’ attractions.

We can see our tourism sector is growing, but lengths of stays are declining. We need to rethink how we market our tourism offering to ensure our visitors have a richer local experience, and stay here longer.”