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Our beaches could soon be open for business

By Greg Bell

There you are, bathing in the glorious sunlight and the gentle lapping of the waves on a beach in the Gold Coast. And you find yourself thinking, I wish I had a drink in one hand, a burger in the other and an umbrella over my head. Heck, there's a business opportunity here!

Previously this idea would have been scrapped at its inception, as the various rules and regulations from the Gold Coast City Vouncil forbade any commercial activities on our ocean beaches.

However, there is potential change in the air, as a September 28 Gold Coast Bulletin article reported the council is currently considering an internal report on the feasibility of opening up the sand for business, expected to be presented at a meeting in mid-October.

Essentially, you will be able to lease retail property on Gold Coast beaches, making the most of our vibrant tourism market, both domestic and international. Among other things, the report seeks to lift the restrictions around commercial activity like cocktail bars, umbrellas for hire and deliverable food on the beach.

This would certainly have a positive impact on the coast, helping to further establish our reputation as the "Glitter Strip", while attracting attention from around the world.

What do we currently have?

According to the Gold Coast City Council, our beaches extend for 52 kilometres from Point Danger in the south to Jumpinpin in the northern end of South Stradbroke Island. Currently, there are a number of commercial enterprises that can operate on the sand, albeit with constraints. These include:

  • Entertainment or promotional events, such as small sporting events (a volleyball competition, for example) and music events with a maximum size of approximately 4,000 people
  • Filming for television commercials or, in some cases, movies
  • Beach equipment hire – however, it can only be conducted by a surf lifesaving club and it must be within 100 metres of the clubhouse
  • Marriage ceremonies in some circumstances, but they cannot extend for more than an hour with a limit of 50 people
  • Skydivers in assigned landing zones on North Kirra Beach
  • Surf schools with an annual permit are allowed a designated area to run classes and instruct individuals

While the current controls do allow for some fantastic business, there is still the potential for some massive improvements.

What do the people want?

A survey from the Gold Coast Bulletin from earlier in 2015 found that the residents here are largely all for the idea of retail operations on the beaches.

The commercial enterprises that proved to be the most popular were:

  • An open-air cinema
  • Hosting major events
  • More access to beach equipment hire (like umbrellas, chairs and towels, for example)
  • Dining and bars

The opportunities that it could hold for commercial investors are endless! Not just for those that put their money into commercial beach undertakings either, as it will likely increase the number of tourists and benefit the greater Gold Coast economy too.

What's the capacity for business?

The Gold Coast City Council ran a survey in regards to opening the beaches, with almost 1,200 respondents. There were some interesting results gleaned, including:

  • The bulk of interviewees visited the beach daily (32 per cent)
  • The next largest portion made weekly visits (26 per cent)
  • When asked about the current commercial activities on the beach, the vast majority said it should increase or stay the same

One respondent was quoted as saying:

"Our beaches are our best natural resource for residents and tourism, and for the size of our population compared to the length of our beaches we underutilise this resource. When you compare how the beaches are used in Europe with how little our beaches are used in our city it shows you that there is much more scope for them to be used."

If you would like to know more about buying commercial property on the Gold Coast, you should get in touch with the team at Ray White. We can help you through the whole process, identifying your needs and finding the ideal property, whether it's on sand or tarmac.

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