The evolution of the Gold Coast: Selina Sinclair on infrastracture and intellectual capital investment.
Selina Sinclair knows what it is to be surprised by the Gold Coast. Recently moving to the breath-taking stretch of coastline in Southeast Queensland for its incredible natural assets, she quickly discovered the breadth and depth of the multicultural, intellectual, entrepreneurial city on the ocean. As Head of Business Events for Destination Gold Coast, now she’s in charge of telling the world about the evolution of the destination and what it can offer business events.
A golden era
Having lived and worked around the world in cities like London, Paris and Singapore, Selina says the strength and diversity of the Gold Coast’s offering – from the 160 experiences within a 30-minute drive of the region’s centre to the Health and Knowledge Precinct that is increasingly home to world-first innovation and discovery – combined with the natural surrounds of the ocean and the hinterland is a rare find worldwide.
“That’s quite unusual for most international cities,” she says. “Especially where you can immerse yourself in so much nature and still be in a city with a lot to do,” she says.
While the Gold Coast’s aesthetic beauty is well-known, Selina says the business events world is only just starting to understand how much the city offers from a creative, intellectual and knowledge perspective, across multiple industries.
“More and more organisers of business events look for strengths of host cities in their industry category – it’s not enough to compete on the capacity of our hotels and venues alone, we must also show the capability of the Gold Coast in key industry pillars,” she says.
“The Gold Coast is redefining itself as a global city with investment taking place in world-class technology, research, education, film and advanced manufacturing to name a few.
“At the heart of the Gold Coast’s transformation is also a thriving education economy. Great minds are converging to explore and innovate in our universities and teaching hospitals – 29 per cent of the Gold Coast’s population are students.
“The city today has a creative undercurrent. The streets from Burleigh to Broadbeach are not only culturally significant, they have become home to brewers, entrepreneurs and creatives and there is an energy that is making the Gold Coast an exciting place to be and one of the fastest growing cities in the world,” Selina says.
In the Gold Coast’s Health and Knowledge Precinct, AU$5 billion dollars has been invested, with over 1,000 researchers and 700 students based there, alongside health clinicians and global companies. Currently underway, the final stage of the precinct’s development is Lumina, a hub for ground-breaking companies and startups in the fields of healthtech, medtech, biotech and sportstech.
The precinct is home an estimated 300 partnerships and projects leading to innovations and discoveries including implantable electronics for brain stimulation and pacemakers and the world’s first designer anti-influenza drug, Relenza. Nearby, there’s also Gilmour Space, which is working with Griffith University to launch locally made low-Earth orbit satellites that will service a global market.
“When I went out to the Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct – it is as international as where I came from, which I was not expecting moving here. It’s a mix of all demographics, which I think is not that well known,” says Selina.
“The multiculturalism out there is next level. There are people from all over the world that are working out here and I don’t think people realise that.”
The Gold Coast is also becoming a film production mecca, with a massive investment by Village Roadshow Studios resulting in the region becoming home to the largest studio lot in the Southern Hemisphere.
Visionary Australian filmmaker Baz Luhrmann recently made the critically-acclaimed biopic Elvis on the Gold Coast, including end-to-end production and called the region the next creative capital of the world. Other films shot on the Gold Coast include Pirates of the Caribbean and Thor.
Backing up the creative, innovation, research and knowledge credentials is an explosion of visitor infrastructure and experiences. During the pandemic, $1 billion has been spent on products and experiences for visitors to the Gold Coast and the region has an enviable hotel pipeline. Aside from the just-opened Langham, Gold Coast, Marriott International have sealed the deal on a Ritz-Carlton and a St. Regis on the Gold Coast, expected to open in 2026 and 2027 respectively.
And at the heart of it all is Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre – the region’s largest purpose-built business events venue, able to host up to 6,000 delegates, located just 500m from the beach and 20 minutes’ drive from the Health and Knowledge Precinct.
“Our convention centre has a very unique value proposition,” says Selina. “It is able to be fully taken over and customised for associations that look for a space to make their own. Filled with natural daylight and famous for its five-star food, the level of service and the environment it creates make it world-class.”