The Commonwealth Games has one day of competition left as the April issue of Focus hits the post and heads for councils around Australia. The eyes of sports lovers and those who tried to avoid it but couldn’t have feasted on the beautiful images of the Gold Coast’s glorious white beaches, exciting entertainment precincts, the cool greens of the hinterland and the first class sporting facilities while the medal count tallies.
The cities co-hosting sports – Cairns, Townsville and Brisbane, using their facilities for basketball, cycling and shooting events have shared in the glory and the publicity.
International events like the Commonwealth Games are a rare chance for regional centres to present themselves as the ultimate tourist destinations and prospective business investment opportunities to an international marketplace.
The events themselves benefit local economic growth creating jobs in the building of facilities, encouraging new businesses investments to take root; but the true value comes from the tourist economy.
Councils have adopted a similar business model and used it creatively and to scale for their own purposes.
A recent trip to Benalla, in central Victoria for a family reunion coincided with the town’s preparation for its Street Art Wall to Wall festival. In its third year, the event is already attracting international notice due to the renown of the artists and the quality of the art.
Not too far away the second hand book trail winds between country towns enticing city dwellers out for country drives or weekends away. Likewise art trails link reinterpreted public buildings turning railway stations and gaols into galleries and museums. Winery trails, rail trails and silo art are all draw cards and give new interest to old things.
In this edition of LG Focus, City of Mount Gambier, South Australia, reports that investing less than half a million dollars in local events has returned the city more than $13.5 million. Newman in the Western Australian Shire of East Pilbara this year hosted their first Amazing Bike Race during Bike Week. Shire of Augusta Margaret River in the southwest has secured their third Surf Pro, an international surfing competition.
All are fine examples of communities finding events that suit them and taking the opportunity to showcase what they value or take pride in.
Events are also opportunities to bring tourism dollars back to communities that are now bypassed by travellers speeding up motorways and condemning towns to obscurity.