Exploring the Gold Coast: Meet the Imagination Capital of Australia

8th Jul, 2024

Great minds have converged on the Gold Coast to drive change and steer innovation found in the city’s universities, its teaching hospital, its start-ups and established industries. Experience Gold Coast works with conference organisers and event planners to attract international business events across a wide range of sectors.

Australia’s Gold Coast boasts strong credentials and a super-creative space for business events. Gold Coast, Queensland, has become a destination bursting with capacity in one of the world’s fastest-growing regions. The “Imagination Capital of Australia” – its bold global message – is all about combining everything that is globally known about the Gold Coast with its purpose-built infrastructure to create memorable experiences that can’t be replicated anywhere else in the world.

A place that fuels creativity where a coastal lifestyle and business opportunities intersect, as Experience Gold Coast’s (EGC) Head of Business Events, Brooke Campbell, tells us: “Where else in the world can you have breakfast onboard a whale-watching ocean cruise and then walk straight into your conference in a state-of-the-art venue before watching the sun set on our 57 kilometres of golden beaches?” EGC is the consolidation of Destination Gold Coast, Major Events Gold Coast, Study Gold Coast, Placemakers*, and Home of the Arts.

Among the various projects that advanced after the pandemic are: a $500 million expansion of the airport that resulted in a new international terminal; the opening of the $5 billion Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct (GCHKP), which is home to more than 1,000 researchers and 700 students, as well as internationally recognised doctors and 50 SMEs and technology companies; and the Home Of the Arts Gallery, opened in 2021 which changed the city’s arts and culture landscape in a $60 million renovation.

Additionally, the Gold Coast Light Rail public transport system is delivering a 6.7-kilometre stage-3 extension to the south due for completion in 2025. This is an important piece in fully connecting the city corridor, especially as we move closer to the 2032 Olympic Games in Brisbane. “New hotel developments also include the beachfront Langham Gold Coast, the Dorsett as part of The Star's renovation, Rydges Gold Coast Airport with a fabulous rooftop bar, and Australia’s first JW Marriott, which has undergone a $35 million renovation,” adds Campbell.

“The Gold Coast is continually updating and growing its business event infrastructure. Face-to-face meetings are more popular than ever so going hybrid is not a priority for us as a destination.”

The Gold Coast is also a technology-driven city, where entrepreneurship is flourishing, attracting huge investment and talent across a wide range of industries. “As a city, we are focusing on attracting business events linked to key industry sectors, including Screen, Education, Engineering, Advanced Manufacturing, Sports and Health & Medical.” The Screen industry, for example, is taking over the city with a massive investment by Village Roadshow Studios, making the city home to the largest studio in the southern hemisphere.

Notably, the city committed until 2025 to Screen Forever – the largest conference of screen industry professionals in Australia – just hosted the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards, and won the bid for the Australian International Movie Convention 2025. The education sector also offers three world-class universities – Bond, Griffith and Southern Cross – plus more than 200 education and training providers, helping them win events in all areas of specialisation. Sport is another major pillar of high-growth businesses with adequate infrastructure to attract major conferences and sporting events. “We’re excited to be hosting the Women in Sport Summit for three years until 2025, and we’ve already started preparations for the 2032 Olympic Games.”

For the EGC team, cost, CSR, safety, and sustainability are the main factors that influence association decision-makers. However, according to them, the variety of venues, proximity, connectivity and ease of travelling are what attract meetings to the city. “We help conferences capitalise on the strength of these key sectors to establish partnerships, opportunities and knowledge, as each client needs something different.” EGC runs exclusive local offers and financial support to ensure associations, companies, and creative groups arrive on the Gold Coast ready to succeed. As a link in the decision-making process, they work closely with more than 500 venues and suppliers to organise site inspections or famil programmes to craft a tailor-made event plan.

As mentioned above, this emerging global city has established the GCHKP, Asia Pacific’s newest health and innovation centre, where collaborators transform lives through healthcare innovation and state-of-the-art technologies. Anchored by Gold Coast University Hospital, one of Australia’s busiest tertiary hospitals, and the state-of-the-art Gold Coast Private Hospital, GCHKP co-locates the best global talent for collaboration and R&D, and contributes $3.4 billion to the Queensland economy. “We work with our BE Connected Gold Coast Ambassadors who are linked to these institutions, and are experts in their field to open doors for conference organisers to make events richer and more immersive,” explains Campbell. 

“BE Connected Gold Coast includes leaders from the valuable academic and scientific world, in addition to a new generation of industry leaders, thought leaders and game changers who are driving change, growing their industries and helping to move the city forward.”

The Gold Coast is a city that values its cultural heritage, providing everything from a traditional welcome ceremony to a guided walk around the “Dreaming Mountain”, Jellurgal, to discover its Aboriginal culture. “We have a strong relationship with the Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre, which is wholly owned and run by the local Aboriginal community.” Finally, with more than 57 kilometres of beaches, and 100,000 hectares of world heritage-listed Gondwana rainforest, the Gold Coast’s wildlife and natural ecosystem are critical not only to environmental sustainability, but also to the Gold Coast’s social and economic future. “At a local level, we are now seeing a growing movement of ecotourism operators committed to minimising their impact on the environment, using resources wisely, actively helping local communities and providing visitors with opportunities for cultural interaction. Our aim is to protect our biodiversity and deliver projects that restore our precious resources.” In this sense, the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Center has seen its best practices fulfilled with the latest EarthCheck Masters certification in 2023, thanks to a sustainability policy that listed the verification of green events, waste and water reduction processes, and the use of compostable products.

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