NEW Destination Gold Coast CEO Patricia O'Callaghan has unveiled a bold strategy for reviving the city's biggest industry, starting with luring new flights and attractions.

The 37-year-old on Monday takes the reins of the city's marketing body with a mandate to try and restore the $6 billion industry to its former glory after the devastating COVID crisis.

But far from waiting for her first day, Ms O'Callaghan has hit the ground running, already meeting with her board, Mayor Tom Tate and Queensland Airports boss Chris Mills to plan the sector's revival.

New Destination Gold Coast chief executive Patricia O'Callaghan at Gold Coast Airport with Airport boss Chris Mills. Photo: Scott Powick NEWSCORP
New Destination Gold Coast chief executive Patricia O'Callaghan at Gold Coast Airport with Airport boss Chris Mills. Photo: Scott Powick NEWSCORP

"I feel beyond excited and very honoured to be here and I can see enormous opportunities here," she said.

"My vision is to make the Gold Coast the nation's premier destination, whether it is for leisure, business, connecting with friends and family, we want to be the place where Australians come to visit.

"What I have put to the board is a multi-pronged approach with a strong focus on rebuilding the economy and aviation will be critical.

"We are Australia's favourite playground - we need to remind people of how to come here."

Getting planes back to the Coast is a key plank of the strategy. Picture: Brendan Radke.
Getting planes back to the Coast is a key plank of the strategy. Picture: Brendan Radke.

The new tourism boss' arrival comes the same day that the state's hard border with NSW is dismantled and visitors from the greater Sydney region are allowed back into Queensland.

The trans-Tasman travel bubble with New Zealand - requiring Kiwis to quarantine on return - was also reopened on Sunday afternoon after being suspended for nearly a week.

However, a new case of COVID community transmission in Western Australia and a five-day lockdown of Perth announced late on Sunday will force new arrivals in Queensland to quarantine.

Ms O'Callaghan, who previously served as CEO of Townsville Enterprises, met with Mr Mills in late January to discuss how the city can secure more flights and increase the number of planes landing at the airport which remain at 40 per cent of pre-COVID numbers.

The short-term strategy will focus on the domestic market while preparing for the eventual reopening of international borders in 2022.

An international market campaign is already in the works for release in New Zealand.

Beyond new flights, she emphasised the need for new attractions to lure international visitors to the Gold Coast ahead of other locations once foreign borders reopen.

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate. Picture: Tertius Pickard
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate. Picture: Tertius Pickard

Cr Tate has already flagged his own bold plans to expand the city's dive site and push forward with long-stalled plans for a cableway in the Hinterland.

"I love the Mayor's vision and I have a strong track record of helping to convert visions to reality in North Queensland in recent years where we got a new stadium, a museum of underwater art and new dams," she said.

"Unity was the key up in North Queensland because we needed to fight for everything we got so here on the Gold Coast I will look at ways to take a united approach with levels of government and the private sector.

"Now is the time to be bold and visionary because we need to set ourselves up for a strong future post-COVID.

Ms O'Callaghan beat out more than 300 applicants for the position and was appointed in November 2020.

She replaces outspoken former CEO Annaliese Battista who resigned from the high-profile role abruptly in August.

Destination Gold Coast chairman Paul Donovan. Picture: Tertius Pickard
Destination Gold Coast chairman Paul Donovan. Picture: Tertius Pickard

Ms Battista fell out with both the State Government and Gold Coast City Council over her forthright lobbying for more tourism funding both prior to and during the COVID-19 crisis.

Long-serving Destination Gold Coast chairman Paul Donovan praised Ms O'Callaghan, describing her as "the perfect fit" for the job.

"We are open for business from today and Patricia has a new perspective and a drive to work on all sectors to get back what we lost," he said.

"It will take a few years but she is a leader, not a manager and I can get back to being chairman and my important role at the airport."

 

 

Originally published as 'Beyond excited': New tourism boss' backs vision for cableway

The future is looking bright, Ms O’Callaghan said. Photo: Scott Powick NEWSCORP
The future is looking bright, Ms O’Callaghan said. Photo: Scott Powick NEWSCORP


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