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That's Gold! Iconic event gets green light, theme parks to reopen as tourism fires up


Gold Coast theme parks Sea World, Movie World and Wet’n’Wild will re-open within weeks and in time for Queensland and NSW school holidays, while the iconic Coolangatta Gold has also been locked in as the coast awakens from its COVID-induced slumber.

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Village Roadshow will reopen Sea World and Paradise Country on June 26. Australian Outback Spectacular will open on July 3. Movie World and Wet’n’Wild will follow, reopening on July 15.

The parks will initially open at 50 per cent capacity and with comprehensive COVID-safe plan measures approved by Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young.

The measures include a new app so thrill-seekers can book a ride on their phone rather than waiting in a queue, along with social distancing on rides.

“It’s just so wonderful to see so many of our team members back in the park getting ready to welcome you back to our world class entertainment, so get ready to have some fun with us all,”  Village Roadshow CEO Clark Kirby said.

Dreamworld and Whitewater World, operated by Ardent Leisure, are looking to reopen to full capacity for the September school holidays.  Ardent Leisure confirmed the parks had the green light to open to 50 per cent capacity under approved COVID-safe plans, and would soon announce schedules for reopening.

Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham urged Australians to spend big in their own back yard.

“For those Australians who can afford to do so, we want them to feel an almost patriotic duty to get out and support the jobs and small businesses of their fellow citizens by having whatever Aussie holiday they can,” he said.

More than 1 million Queenslanders spent $10 billion overseas on holidays last year, according to Tourism Australia figures.

“Instead of the beaches of the Greek Islands, it could be the beaches along the Gold Coast,” Birmingham said.

The Gold Coast’s theme park reopening to locals and tourists comes as the iconic Coolangatta Gold will buck the coronavirus-induced trend of major events being cancelled.

Surf Life Saving Australia confirmed plans were still going ahead to hold the event on the Gold Coast in October.

In a letter to members on Tuesday, SLSA president Graham Ford said the flagship Coolangatta Gold was still on the cards.

“At this stage, we are planning for the Coolangatta Gold to take place as planned on the weekend of October 24 and 25, noting also however, that there may need to be some adjustments based on government regulations,” Ford said.

“Members can be confident that once we have all the necessary information, we will communicate, providing as much notice as possible, to assist all those interested and or involved.”

The Coolangatta Gold, which generated around $2.85 million for the Gold Coast economy in 2019, is a positive spark amid a rash of major event cancellations for the tourism capital left economically devastated by closures and event cancellations due to COVID-19.

The Coolangatta Gold in October will join Schoolies Week in November as events expected to proceed on the Gold Coast in 2020.
The Pan Pacific Masters Games scheduled for November was the latest major Gold Coast event to be cancelled on June 2. The biennial Pan-Pac Masters in 2018 attracted 32,400 people and injected $19 million into the Queensland economy.

The Gold Coast Marathon due to be held in July, which attracts 60,000 visitors and contributes around $33 million, was cancelled last month.

The GC600 was also axed. The cancellation of the supercars event is estimated to have cost the Gold Coast as much as $55 million.

Last week, popular music festival Splendour in the Grass, which had been postponed until October at Byron Bay, was also called off.

This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas

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