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THE Gold Coast’s casino resort giant will press ahead with a $2B Broadbeach masterplan on schedule citing confidence in the future recovery of international travel.
But Star Entertainment Group CEO Matt Bekier, on the Gold Coast for the first time in four months on Sunday, said it would be up to State Government to find funding for a much-needed supersizing of the convention centre.
City tourism bosses have been agitating for the redevelopment and increase in size of the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre so it can host bigger conferences attracting high-yielding tourists.
But Star’s proposed $100m offer to fund it is now off the table after talks with the State Government for a Star casino monopoly in the city in exchange broke down.
Mr Bekier said: “I hope it will be upgraded but it won’t be with our money. The ball is now in the State’s court and I hope they do something with it because it is a great asset.”
On a positive note, Mr Bekier said development at its Broadbeach island – with four more towers greenlighted for the next decade to create 7000 jobs – is on track to continue despite the virus pandemic.
Star is mid-construction on the site’s third tower to house a Dorsett hotel. A “bullish” Mr Bekier said his sights were firmly set on preparing for the return of international visitors by developing attractions to act as a magnet for travellers.
The pandemic had hurt Star which has welcomed back 800 of its 2000 Gold Coast staff, but he was staying positive: “If we can keep this thing under control life will go back to a pretty good business as usual.
“We have always said we would pursue the masterplan based on market conditions and the Dorsett will be delivered next year as planned. The next tower is in advanced pre-sales. Things are looking good.
“There has been significant change to people’s lives but in two to three years the market will normalise and we will have international travel again, with the Gold Coast the top destination on everyone’s list.
“It is clearly exciting but we will need the hotel rooms to house them and given our timing it could be the perfect moment to have the capacity ready for when the international market comes back.”
Mr Bekier said he was “bullish” about the market while Star refocused its business on the domestic market in the short to medium term.
The company will “recast” its offerings and offer deals tailored for domestic customers, which pre-COVID, made up 85 per cent of its Gold Coast earnings.
The masterplan, approved by State Government, includes four new towers of 65, 74, 54 and 52 storeys for 1794 apartments and 518 rooms.
The breakdown of the Star-State Government talks comes as Tourism Minister Kate Jones also shelved the hunt for investment in a global tourism hub on the Gold Coast.
On the convention centre $100m offer going begging, a spokesman for Ms Jones said: “The Palaszczuk Government remains committed to looking at a future upgrade of the convention centre. We know (it) will be crucial to tourism recovery with hundreds of conferences already booked for next year.”
Source: The Courier Mail