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ANYONE who grew up in Brisbane will be familiar with the ridicule the city’s reputation copped from friends and colleagues south of the border. When they referred to “Brisvegas”, they weren’t handing out compliments.
That changed during the 1980s. Off the back of the hugely successful 1982 Commonwealth Games and World Expo 88, Brisbane developed a reputation as a vibrant new world city. An emerging destination with friendly people, a great vibe, and the home of live music.
Today, the city is on the verge of a new era, driven by an unprecedented number of tourism-related infrastructure projects, which include the Howard Smith Wharves (HSW) project where Tourism Australia will host its Destination Australia Conference today.
There has never been such a perfect alignment of infrastructure that will forever change the city.
Brisbane Airport’s second runway is a $1.3 billion project that will give the city the potential to become the nation’s gateway to Asia.
Over the past two years Brisbane has secured new services from China, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand, which will pour millions into the state’s economy. With Qantas now basing some of its 787 fleet in the city, it also opens up other destinations within Asia and North America.
In Queen’s Wharf, the city will have a destination in the CBD that will offer unique experiences. On my travels throughout Asia, it is a project that has captured the imagination of many of our Asian partners.
It will be complemented by the exciting developments taking shape for HSW and the plans for Eagle Street Pier area. These projects will unlock the river and the unique Queensland food story. As Brisbane’s riverside changes, so, too, do the perceptions of the city.
It now boasts sophisticated entertainment precincts — South Bank, James St, King St and, most recently, HSW — along with high-end hotels Ovolo, The Emporium South Bank, The W, The Westin and The Calile.
Improved transport infrastructure such as the Cross River Rail will facilitate visitors’ ability to move around and experience these great new attractions and precincts.
Another important project is the Luggage Point cruise terminal, which will enable the city to tap into a growing segment of domestic tourism — cruising in and around Moreton Bay.
Live entertainment precincts are the new normal around the world for unlocking the night-time economy. Brisbane Live will do the same for our city.
The 2018 Commonwealth Games provided a great opportunity to position Brisbane and the Gold Coast as major international event destinations. The next step must be a bid for a Summer Olympic Games — if not for 2032, then 2036.
All this wonderful infrastructure goes to show the opportunities that tourism represents for Queensland.
It’s also a $100 billion national opportunity, of which Queensland’s share is $20 billion. It employs over 200,000 Queenslanders and will provide jobs and career opportunities for many more into the future.
Tourism is an industry that Queenslanders are good at, and it’s a sector that compliments so many of the other growth sectors of the Australian economy. Think international education. Think agribusiness.
So, as we approach the redevelopment of Brisvegas and head towards 2020 and beyond, let’s get behind this sector.
John O’Sullivan is managing director of Tourism Australia.
Source: Courier Mail