Huge cost of border closure revealed
TOURISM leaders say the Gold Coast economy is bleeding about $310 million every month the NSW border is closed - and the overall financial fallout from the coronavirus will be upwards of $4.3 billion.
The Destination Gold Coast figures paint a stark reality of the city's economic woes and has prompted tourism bosses to heavily target new major events in 2021 and 2022.
However, business experts are deeply concerned that many small firms will not make it that far with recent studies showing as many as 7500 companies could have fallen victim to COVID-19 restraints last month.
Small business operators fearing they will collapse if the border closure lasts until September are planning a protest parade to be held next week simultaneously with Cairns and Sunshine Coast peers.
Major Events Gold Coast boss Jan McCormack said cancelled events would come back "bigger and better than ever".
She said the GC600, Gold Coast Marathon and Blues on Broadbeach were contracted until 2024-25.
"They're staples for the Gold Coast and we'll be making sure they come back bigger and better than ever. But we're also already having serious discussions with five parties in regards to bringing new events to the city next year and 2022.
"Four are sporting events and another is an entertainment one. If they come through it'll be great news for the Gold Coast."
Tourism Minister Kate Jones said she was looking to "poach" events from other states to make up for the cancelled events.
"The Gold Coast's tourism industry has grown by around 15 per cent … because we haven't been afraid to get out the cheque book to secure events for the Coast that we know will support local businesses and grow our economy.
"It's been heartbreaking to see a lot of that hard work fall to the wayside."
No solid data exists on the number of small and medium-sized Gold Coast enterprises that have closed permanently since March 23, which is when the first big wave of businesses were forced to close.
However, it is possible to get an indication from a statewide survey conducted by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in April with 2400 respondents.
The Suncorp Pulse survey, which included a number of Coast businesses as respondents, found 13 per cent had been forced to close or "mothball" their operations.
The Glitter Strip has 60,000 small businesses meaning if that percentage was replicated across the city, 7800 businesses would have closed in April.
A further 28 per cent of respondents said they were maintaining skeleton staff through the pandemic, which translates to 16,800 on the Gold Coast.
In total, the number of businesses forced to close or scale back, based on the CCIQ survey, would be somewhere in the realm of 24,600 or 41 per cent of the total.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data released on Thursday backs this picture. It found 71 per cent of small businesses (0-19 employees) had reported revenue decline as a result of COVID-19.
Chaz Prezident, founder of equity funding platform crowdfunding.com.au and accounting practice Whitehouse Private Wealth, said the greatest number of closures would come between January and March next year.
He said this was because a number of businesses were being kept afloat by JobKeeper and other stimulus measures.
"I think Australia is looking through rosy-coloured glasses. There is a large amount of government benefits circulating the economy," he said.
"We need to have a strong restart before the end of September or it will be a house of cards crashing down."
Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce president Martin Hall said it was likely the CCIQ survey underplayed the devastation wrought on the Coast.
Originally published as Huge cost of border closure revealed