Selling the city
Cities have attempted to differentiate themselves throughout history based on their spatial qualities, inhabitant characteristics, social conditions and historical roots. In the twentyfirst century, however, media plays a significantly greater role in shaping the perception of cities than it has previously. City governments are increasingly turning to the tool of branding to differentiate themselves from other cities. This is especially true for tourism-oriented economies such as Queensland’s Gold Coast. The local print media, together with local television stations and tourism bodies have historically promoted the image of the Gold Coast as a place that is growing and is desirable to visit, live and work in, and continue to do so. Throughout the city’s development, the media have sold the Gold Coast to outsiders by focusing on the trinity of sun, surf and sand, and in the early years of the new century, with references to modernity, sophistication and culture. The Gold Coast is often portrayed as a resort town and Australia’s playground in a narrative designed to attract the visitors on which the tourism industry depends. The greater frame of reference for the media focuses on growth by promoting large events, ease of development, functionality of infrastructure and the city’s potential for population growth. Underpinning both these tourist and growth narratives is the media’s emphasis on the potential for future residents to have a relaxed and prosperous lifestyle. Growth and development of the Gold Coast is a goal supported by the power elites, the service workers, the property industry and its boosters. Print and television media have nurtured their special influence on the Gold Coast by supporting this vision. Media support has led to a large number of interstate and international migrants taking up residence and contributed to large-event opportunities such as the 2018 Commonwealth Games choosing the Gold Coast as home.
Off the Plan: The Urbanisation of the Gold Coast