Connecting with the Gold Coast tourism industry, enhancing local outcomes

The Gold Coast is Australia’s premier tourist destination—renowned for its surf, sand and sunshine. Tourism is the backbone of the local economy and is at the heart of planning, policy making and city branding.

The City of Gold Coast, Gold Coast Tourism and Griffith Institute for Tourism meet quarterly to discuss tourism relevant issues, challenges and opportunities. Recently Study Gold Coast has joined the group, reflecting the importance of the educational market for the City.

Projects and partnerships

Australian Tourism Demand for Domestic Travel Experiences: Insights for the Gold Coast

It is essential tourism destinations continually develop new and attractive experiences. This study of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland residents investigated views on opportunities to improve existing and develop new tourism experiences for the Gold Coast. The results identified activities of general interest when on holidays, as well as particular types of experience that would be attractive if developed on the Gold Coast. These findings have informed the Gold Coast Tourism Destination Management Plan.

Gold Coast Tourism Industry Report

This Gold Coast Tourism Industry Report provides a consistent collation and analysis of macro and micro tourism statistics, research and trends. The ongoing biannual series of Gold Coast Half-Year and Full-Year Tourism Industry Reports are commissioned by the Gold Coast Tourism Corporation and the City of Gold Coast, and prepared independently by the Griffith Institute for Tourism.

Business innovation to adapt to new markets

The Experience Gold Coast project involved researchers from GIFT working closely with five Gold Coast tourism businesses, which targeted younger visitors to enhance the experiences they offered. Professor Noel Scott, Dr Sarah Gardiner and Ms Joan Carlini worked with operators to identify opportunities to meet changing visitor needs, especially the experiences required by tourists from growing Asian markets. The findings led to changes in the tourist offering to address cultural differences in attitudes to water and beach activities, as well as in-destination promotion. The researchers worked with one of the businesses, Get Wet Surf School, to win the Queensland Tourism Industry Council 2015 Prize for Innovation.

Other local engagement

Working with Riverlife and Get Wet Surf School

Professor Noel Scott and Dr Sarah Gardiner received two Advance Queensland Knowledge Transfer grants in partnership with Riverlife and Get Wet Surf School, respectively. These grants will enable the businesses to employ a PhD, masters or honours Australian graduate for a year to implement new innovation in their business. The Queensland Government will fund two-thirds of their salary and the business will fund the other third. Professor Noel Scott and Sarah Gardiner are assisting the new employee in each business in a mentoring capacity.

Australian Tourism Exchange

The Australian Tourism Exchange, Australia's most important tourism trade event, was hosted on the Gold Coast in May 2016. The event  was jointly organised by Tourism Australia, Tourism Events Queensland and Gold Coast Tourism. A local Advisory Board was established to provide input and support. Professor Susanne Becken was invited to form part of the Board and contribute to monthly meetings.

Working with Surfers Paradise Alliance: Photo elicitation

Events are an increasingly important part of a destination’s portfolio and understanding the customer experience at the event can increase satisfaction with, and loyalty towards that event. Whilst surveys are one approach used to understand event goers’ experience, other methods such as photo elicitation can provide a data richness and depth of meaning not captured in surveys. This project evaluates experiences using photo elicitation as the main data collection technique, coupled with surveys to capture the meaning of the photo and the emotions associated with it. In-depth interviews are also conducted to elicit the event experience attached to the photos. Professor Beverley Sparks, Wei Liu and Dr Alexandra Coghlan, co-badged with Surfers Paradise Alliance (SPA) led the project.

Working with Study Gold Coast: China to Gold Coast social media campaign

Social media marketing has become one of the key ways to engage with consumers. In October 2015, Study Gold Coast launched Australia’s first international student social media competition in China through the social media platforms of Weibo and WeChat. Chinese participants were encouraged to enter a competition to win a two-week Gold Coast education tourism experience in July 2016. The campaign successfully boosted the profile of the Gold Coast as an education and leisure destination in China.

Working with the Gold Coast Adventure Travel Group

The Gold Coast is well-positioned to capitalise on this growth. Recognising the potential of this market, in 2002 Dr Sarah Gardiner began working with the Gold Coast Adventure Travel Group to grow youth visitation to the Gold Coast. Since then, international backpacker numbers to the Gold Coast have increased by 55 per cent and youth visitors now represent over one-third of all international visitors to the Gold Coast.


If you would like more information, or to partner with us, get in touch