RALPH Devlin has hailed The Aussies as a boon for the Coast, but admitted we had lessons to learn if we were to take on the event in the future.
The Surf Life Saving Australia director, Surf Life Saving Queensland president and Sunshine Coast Events Board chair wore all three of his 'hats' yesterday as he addressed the Alexandra Headland Community Association's annual general meeting.
Mr Devlin said the Australian Surf Lifesaving Championships, which were hosted by the Maroochydore, Alexandra Headland and Mooloolaba surf lifesaving clubs in April, had put the Coast on the map for thousands of people who had never been to our region before.
With 7000 competitors bringing with them an estimated 25,000 supporters, accommodation houses in the event's hot spots were bursting at the seams.
But Mr Devlin admitted heavy marketing addressing parking and transport arrangements prior to the event had meant locals who would usually frequent cafes and restaurants in the area had chosen to stay away.
"It is regrettable that some businesses have reported that their regulars stayed away due to the 'It'll be packed' message and they didn't do as much business as they had hoped as a result," he said.
Mr Devlin said another area to address before hosting another event of this magnitude was the transport arrangements and access to the beach for non-competitors.
Although the Mooloolaba to Maroochydore transit arrangements had been effective in transporting the large number of competitors to events, Mr Devlin said they could be downscaled somewhat so as not to impact residents.
"One of the amazing things to come out of the Aussies is that despite the large number of people, there were only two or three minor incidents with one competitor ejected from the event," he said.
"That is despite people being released from their events and often having time on their hands."
A Tourism Events Queensland contract that is set to expire in 2022 declares any unclaimed events would be held on the Gold Coast, but Mr Devlin is assured that the success of this year's event would put the region in good stead when the renewal negotiations take place.
"The Coast could nominate for 2021, or in 2022 we would have the centenary of the Mooloolaba club and the '23-'24 season is the centenary for Alexandra Headland and I'm pretty confident under the new contract that we will be able to secure at least one of those milestones."
Mr Devlin congratulated the three "powerhouse" clubs and the Sunshine Coast Council for banding together to make the Aussies a reality and cement our footing as a prefered destination for years to come.
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