The gold rush has failed to materialise for many businesses expecting a win from the Commonwealth Games.
Some Gold Coast operators expecting a tourism surge over the opening week instead saw a trickle of customers, with businesses experiencing a 35 per cent drop in trade on the same time last year.
Hospitality establishments planning to be rushed off their feet during the games instead had to lay off staff as their usual Easter trade dropped dramatically.
And the price of some beachfront hotel rooms was slashed by hundreds of dollars in a late bid for bookings.
“Everyone was gearing up for a massive Games but it’s been the worst Easter for five years,” Bradley Thumm of drinks company Diageo.
“Everyone from cafes to surf clubs are saying business has been terrible.
“Tourists seem to have been scared away by all the bad publicity about expected traffic chaos and high hotel prices, and the locals aren’t coming into town either.
“The Games are a once in a lifetime experience and we really need the people from Brisbane and elsewhere to come and enjoy it.”
Commonwealth Games CEO Mark Peters said some people may have been spooked by the message to stay off the roads during the Games, but crowds were now building and some areas were beginning to experience big crowds.
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate urged residents to support their local businesses and continue the revival for the duration of the Games.
“I encourage everyone to get out and vote with their wallets. I’m advised trade has picked up significantly today so let’s keep it rolling and keep supporting local business,” he said.
“The Festival 2018 sites in Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach are consistently busy, and Destination Gold Coast is reporting accommodation bookings are solid for this time of year.”
The different dates of Easter school holidays in New Zealand, Queensland and New South Wales may also have been a factor in lower-than-predicted visitor numbers.