Adrienne Readings, Chair of Destination Gold Coast, lends her expert insight into Australia’s holiday capital.
Q&A WITH ADRIENNE READINGS, CHAIR, DESTINATION GOLD COAST
Firstly, could you outline the vision and mission behind Destination Gold Coast?
Adrienne Readings, Chair (AR): For over 50 years, the Gold Coast has been at the pinnacle of Australia’s tourism industry where domestic and international travellers come to enjoy our famed laidback lifestyle, magnificent coastlines, beaches, and ancient rainforests all within a 45-minute drive radius.
In alignment with growing consumer interest, we are also seeing our region unfold as a destination for wellness, dining, luxury travel and solo escapes, all of which are exciting additions to our coastal city. We strive every day to make the Gold Coast the premier tourism destination for leisure, business, events, friends and family – and leave all visitors with a thirst to come back time and again.
What kind of travellers does the region appeal to most?
(AR): It’s certainly no secret that the Gold Coast has long been considered a high energy entertainment family destination with the family market being the foundation of our region’s success. And why wouldn’t it be with our abundance of kid-friendly entertainment and upcoming developments like the Wizard of Oz Precinct at Movie World set for completion in 2024? But with more than AUD$1 billion in new infrastructure and product development over the past three years – including an AUD$500 million expansion of our airport – we are starting to see a younger and more mature demographic emerge seeking luxury travel and wellness experiences. The newly opened Langham Gold Coast is just the beginning of what will be some exciting new luxury hotel offerings across our city over the next three to four years including the Mondrian, Ritz Carlton, The W and St Regis.
How does tourism in the Gold Coast cater to sustainable or eco-friendly travel experiences? Are there any ongoing efforts or initiatives that you would like to highlight in this area?
(AR): The Gold Coast is proud to be home to several sustainable and eco-friendly travel experiences from accommodation and dining to tourism and wellness experiences, Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, our award-winning eco-tourism certified retreat located in the rolling hills of Tallebudgera Valley, offers guests the opportunity to reconnect, restore and nourish their mind, body, and soul. They do this with the incorporation of wholefoods, a core component of their culinary offering, and wellness modalities that enhance well-being and peace of mind. They are also registered with Land for Wildlife, a programme committed to protecting wildlife habitat on the property. Lastly, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, our not-for-profit ecotourism experience focusing on conservation and educational programmes, is home to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital, a vital resource for the rehabilitation and rescue of Australian wildlife with an admission of over 14,000 animals including 500 koalas.
What can travellers in search of luxury expect from the Gold Coast?
(AR): The Gold Coast has transformed over the years into a mecca of luxury experiences designed for the discerning traveller. From our emerging culinary scene with 24 chef-hatted restaurants to our 5-star accommodation, the Gold Coast is fast becoming renowned for its approachable luxury. A recent addition to our accommodation offering and a perfect example of approachable luxury is Verandah House Country Estate in Tamborine Mountain, a 5-star country-style property with breathtaking views of the skyline reaching as far as Mount Warning. As for dining experiences, some of our chef hatted restaurants include Paddock Restaurant at Beechmont Estate, Nineteen at the Star, Rick Shores, The North Room, T’ang Court, Kiyomi, Social Eating House and Citrique.
How do you navigate promoting tourism whilst also respecting the traditional custodians of the land? Does the region have much to offer in terms of authentic and responsible Indigenous tourism?
(AR): Destination Gold Coast acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land in which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh language region. We pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters, and their extended communities throughout Southeast Queensland. We are grateful to have a wonderful collection of Indigenous tourism offerings including Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre, an immersive Indigenous experience and introduction to First Nations culture that takes guests on a journey through Dreaming Mountain (Burleigh Headland). We also have Spirits of the Red Sand, an Indigenous live theatre and dining experience transporting guests beyond Dreamtime to the 1800s. Lastly, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary has an Aboriginal Cultural Show where guests will enjoy entertainment and uncover ancient knowledge through traditional song, dance, and stories.
Have you noticed any new tourism trends emerge in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic?
(AR): In the international space, we are seeing travellers looking for that unique holiday, and they are willing to take longer holidays to ensure they tick every box, having spent the best part of three years unable to travel. The Gold Coast is perfectly placed to deliver on this. Travellers of all types are also now more than ever seeking to “travel for good’’, so sustainability has dramatically risen towards the top of their wish list.
What are some of your key priorities for the year ahead?
(AR): Our purpose for the Gold Coast is to be Australia’s premier tourism destination as we continue to rebuild, restore access, and focus our attention on inclusive travel, particularly with 2023 being the Year of Accessible Tourism for Queensland. We are also seeking ways to enhance our ecotourism offering and sustainability efforts, and look forward to the journey ahead in achieving our goals and objectives within this space. We are also committed to growing our conference and incentive sector to attract more visitation.
Finally, what makes 2023 the year to visit the Gold Coast?
(AR): The Gold Coast is continually evolving with new infrastructure, tourism, and dining experiences. With each year comes exciting new developments and additions to our city and in the last two years alone, more than AUD$1 billion has been invested by the private and public sector which has significantly transformed our destination for both residents and visitors. From the addition of Wonder Reef, a world first buoyant reef soaring 22 metres (m) above the sea floor to the AUD$500 million investment towards our international Gold Coast airport, we embrace our renowned reputation as Australia’s favourite playground and look forward to welcoming our international guests in 2023 and beyond.