NOBODY'S HERE: Coolangatta Hotel wasn't as busy as management had hoped for the Games. INSET: The Strand parking fees.
NOBODY'S HERE: Coolangatta Hotel wasn't as busy as management had hoped for the Games. INSET: The Strand parking fees. Scott Powick

Businesses miss the mark on Commonwealth Games trade

GOLD Coast businesses are disappointed at the exodus of customers fleeing across the border during the Commonwealth Games.

Fresh Garden Cafe owner Chris Welman said his Coolangatta business had lost at least half of its customer base during the Games, despite officials promising an influx of customers from the beach volleyball.

"Fifty per cent of our business is tourists but we're not getting the tourists and then our locals, these businesses that have elected to close for two weeks, we've lost them as well,” Mr Welman said.

"They scared everyone.

"I don't think (spectators) are spending any money.

"I've hired a cold room, that cost $1000, to get me through the Games and I shouldn't have gotten it because I've had no need for it at all.

"What annoys me is when you see (Games chair) Peter Beattie or (Gold Coast Mayor) Tom Tate boasting about all this stuff and there are so many businesses doing it tough.”

But traders were faring better further south, with Kingscliff and District Chamber of Commerce president Mark Humphries saying there had been a boost in business during the Games.

"It's quite positive down here,” Mr Humphries said.

"We seem to have been quite buoyant down here, accommodation is having a good time, and the cafes, restaurants and the surf club have been trading exceptionally well.”

Tweed Chamber of Commerce president and Tweed Shire councillor Warren Polglase said he was pleased the Games had been beneficial to the Tweed business community.

"I was talking to a coffee shop in Kingscliff and they said they wished the Games were going the whole 12 months period,” he said.

"They've had exceptional return over this period.”

But Murwillumbah District Business chamber president Ilze Jaunberzins said the Games hype hadn't reached the Tweed Valley.

"Just going around town, I haven't seen any change really, it's actually quite empty,” Ms Jaunberzins said. "I think the prediction of the boom by Commonwealth officials was quite overestimated.

"Athletes have already gone home and their supporters have gone with them. Tourists are going to go up to Brisbane rather than coming down here.”

But despsite disappointing foot traffic during the Commonwealth Games, Coolangatta businesses are determined to make the most of the experience.

Lower than expected customer numbers has forced The Strand shopping centre to revert back to its original parking fees, after increasing them by 212 per cent for the Games period.

Centre management issued a statement to businesses on Monday explaining due to the lack of congestion predicted for the Games, the standard rate of parking fees would be reinstated, dropping from $50 for five hours back to the normal $16 rate.

While the streets of Coolangatta remain fairly empty, Coolangatta Hotel marketing and events manager Steve Penfold said it was important businesses made the most of the Games experience.

"I think it's been great exposure for the Coolangatta town and southern Gold Coast,” he said. "We are not as busy as we would've liked or prepared for, like everyone, but I can't complain.”

Southern Gold Coast Chamber of Commerce president Hillary Jacobs said she believed the Games would encourage people to visit the Gold Coast in the future.

"There's people who have never visited the area before and they have certainly had their eyes opened to what's here,” Ms Jacobs said.



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