What will Gold Coast 2050 look like?

By Greg Bell

The Gold Coast is in a period of unexpected change. More than just a tourist destination, these changes will have a huge impact on the commercial and industrial profile of the area.

The Beyond the Horizon report predicts the Gold Coast population to double to over a million residents by 2050. What impact will this have on the area? What industries are set to thrive, and how are they expected to change? More importantly, what developments are needed accommodate for them?

Technology, innovation and education

Gone are the days of sun tans and flip-flops. The Gold Coast is no longer just a holiday destination, it's a technology and innovation hub. One in five people owned their own business in 2011, according to Beyond the Horizon report. Future Gold Coast also notes that residents filed as many patents in 2013 as Adelaide, despite the larger city having a much greater proportion of students.

It's this entrepreneurial mindset that's driving growth in the area, according to Regional Development Australia Chairman Craig Devlin.

"The gold coast is a great entrepreneurial city. It always has been and will continue to be," he said in the Future Gold Coast report.

It's hardly surprising, given the area's background of education. The Gold Coast is overrepresented by private schools, with 28 per cent of the areas high school population attending one in 2011 versus only 19 per cent nationally according to KPMG. There are three universities in the Gold Coast: Griffith, Bond and Southern Cross, and while there are currently fewer attendees than the national average, that is expected to change by 2025 with a 162 per cent increase to 55,000 university level students.

Providing space for these budding entrepreneurs and business leaders will be important for the continued development of innovation in the area.

Tourism and retail

Even before we reach 2050, visitors to the Gold Coast will be spending $7 billion by 2020, according to the Queensland government. In its tourism management plan, a targeted approach to attracting more overnight visitors to the area is dependant on growing industries that provide tourists with new experiences in specific niches, such as culture, outdoor and nature based activities. Rather than just a 'fun' holiday destination, visiting the Gold Coast will offer a much deeper experience to tourists.

The Gold Coast is set to welcome more Chinese visitors than ever before, and this change is happening right now. In 2014, the Gold Coast saw Chinese visitors overtake New Zealanders as the largest visitor group, and that number is set to increase over the coming years. Tourism and retail will need to adjust accordingly, such as providing more luxury shopping, suggests the Beyond the Horizon report.

By 2050, Future Gold Coast predicts that there will be an average of 99,000 overnight visitors, with that number increasing to 132,000 during the peak tourist season in January. This market is expected to generate over $16 billion, requiring more intensive shopping precincts than what's currently available. Delivering the appropriate service and infrastructure to meet these visitors will be a source of challenge and opportunity for businesses in years to come.

What else is on the horizon for 2050? The report suggests that co-creation of retail areas within the existing regional centres, increasing the 'depth' of tourist experience prolonging their stay and adapting to the impacts of climate change will all play a part on the future Gold Coast's commercial landscape.

Identifying opportunities for commercial and industrial growth in the Gold Coast area is essential for meeting a changing population head on. To find out more, get in touch with the team at Ray White Surfer's Paradise today.

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