Liao Lulei, Wang Yuanyuan
FAMOUS for its sun, surf and sand, Gold Coast boasts 57 kilometers of coastline and is in one of the fastest growing cities in Australia.
Covering an area of 1,400 square kilometers, Gold Coast has grown from a small seaside resort to the sixth-largest city in the country in the past 50 years.
Gold Coast has seized on the fast development of telecommunication technology, affordable air travel and international trade to cooperate and compete with other parts of the world.
“This is a challenging opportunity for us and will make our city more energetic, powerful and prosperous,” Tom Tate, Mayor of Gold Coast, said during a tour to Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, in December.
Individuals and businesses in Gold Coast are all full of enthusiasm, said Tate. “We are boldly trying new things, and are prepared to give up our current stable status for adventures. I think a city should accept its citizens’ spirit,” he said.
Intl. tourism center
Since the 1960s, the city has developed into an international tourist destination. Its long natural beaches, world-class entertainment facilities, large shopping venues and popular theme parks help attract more than 11 million tourists every year, bringing annual income of more than AU$4.2 billion (US$4.43 billion) a year.
Meanwhile, a variety of events are held in the city on a regular basis. Among these, a major event is held at least once a month. “The activities give visitors a sense of how vibrant the city is. They attract tourists, which benefits our local residents,” Tate said.
In Tate’s opinion, a successful tourism industry means the proper use of its natural advantages such as climate, natural scenery and architecture, the continuous investment in new tourism attractions, and the establishment of a city brand with an international reputation.
The city is set to invest in facilities such as theme parks and cable cars for a tour of its tropical rain forest. “New attractions will become reasons to keep tourists coming back,” he said.
High technology, such as recycling water resources systems and solar power equipment, will be introduced in hotels and holiday resorts to ensure a healthy environment.
Global exchange center
Tate thinks that cities should share their experiences so they can learn from each other to avert unnecessary mistakes.
“Cultural exchange can complete the relationship between trade and investment. In my opinion, the best way to incubate and pass on real friendship is cooperation between schools. The tourism industry can also have similar influences,” he said.
For example, one of the main purposes of Tate’s Zhuhai tour was to establish ties between the Varsity College in Gold Coast and the Zhuhai No.8 Middle School. Both schools can send their teachers and students for exchange activities. Australian students can come to Zhuhai to learn about Chinese language and culture, while Chinese students will have the chance to study in Australia.
“This will represent the relationship between the two cities and the two countries. They will have more knowledge about each other and this understanding will bring more communication between the two cities,” he said.
Tate also hopes that Shenzhen can cooperate more with Gold Coast in fields such as business and culture.
“Gold Coast is now planning a batch of key infrastructure projects including a new cultural park and a yacht port. We hope that Shenzhen companies can also make investments in our projects and our city. Shenzhen companies can be more involved in our construction and development,” he said.
Besides efforts in economic development, Gold Coast also works hard on providing an excellent living environment for its residents.
“Cultural and art activities can strengthen social cohesion, helping build the sense of belonging for individuals and communities. Meanwhile, this industry can also create a lot of jobs,” he said.
Tate also encourages the city to make more achievements in areas such as film, television, music and art programs.
For example, the city plans to build a large cultural park in the city so that young people can show their artistic talent and express themselves.
“We will also plan an international design competition, encouraging local teams and well-known international designers to attend the competition and making the park a rising cultural center featuring performances, art museum, gallery, hotel and outdoor art work show,” he said.
The city is also striving to create jobs and lower living costs.
“I used to be a businessman and made many efforts in reorganization. For example, I recently suspended a US$ 2.8-billion council headquarters construction plan and bought two buildings for US$32.5 million instead. The move has significantly decreased the city government’s financial burden so that we can help lower residents’ taxes, and water bills for 10 years,” Tate said.
As an immigrant city, about 25 percent of the citizens in Gold Coast were born outside Australia. “To help them feel more at home, the government gives out financial support to cultural organizations, letting them hold more activities and events for these immigrants. It is very important to let every citizen know that they are also a part of our society,” he said.
Mayor of Gold Coast
Born in Laos, Tom Tate was elected Mayor of Gold Coast in April 2012. He is a civil engineer by trade, having graduated from the University of New South Wales in the early 1980s. He started his career in the construction industry and later moved into the tourism and hospitality industry.
Tate has served as CEO of a family-owned business and is actively involved in the Gold Coast business community, having served for many years as a director for a variety of business associations and organizations.
City of Gold Coast
Located in southeastern Queensland, Gold Coast is one of the largest cities in Australia. Its population is over 514,000 and is expected to double in the next 20 years. More than 3 million people in neighboring areas have benefited from its economic development.
The urban development has also helped the tourism and construction industries. Its growth has also been driven by sectors such as education, environment, health care, telecommunication, media, and sports.