Gold Coast lifeguards have shared their world-class lifesaving skills with Chilean counterparts in a groundbreaking project that’s taking the quintessential Queenslanders into a whole new Latin American market.
For three weeks in July and August, lifeguards and trainers from Gold Coast Surf City Inc visited Arica in northern Chile to train 28 beach lifeguards as the result of a contract with CORFO, a government organisation promoting economic development and trade in Chile.
The project was also supported locally by the Arica Active Foundation, which works on coastal development strategies.
Gold Coast Surf City Inc is a not-for-profit association set up in 2010 by City of Gold Coast to encourage and liaise with the local surf industry, which injects around $3.3 billion into the Coast economy each year.
Surf City President (and long-time Gold Coast identity) John Nielsen said that the project had surfed into new and exciting territory.
‘The synergy between Gold Coast Surf City and Arica is unique and is the first time anybody has attempted to benchmark against the elite standards of fitness, rapid response recovery, rescue techniques and level of treatment skills essential to be a professional ocean lifeguard in Australia,’ he said.
‘We were made very welcome by the locals, who realised that this was a rare and generous career-building opportunity which they could never afford personally, but made possible by the experts with vision at CORFO, who are pursuing “Sustainable Tourism” via the surfing and cultural attractions their waves and beaches freely provide in abundance.
‘This is a timely and priceless model for all Latin America’s coastal “surf cities” to embrace to keep their tourists and locals safe.’
Mr Nielsen said that the project was a remarkable success, with Arica’s lifeguards receiving international certification and the Queensland lifeguards learning a lot about teaching surf safety in a different culture and language.
‘Four translators were engaged throughout, although we find that in such physical aquatic training, surfers simply speak the same language and have common bonds,’ he said.
‘Aloha Amigos is our motto; we shared a lot of stoke – Aussies and Chileans mix well!’
Mr Nielsen said he was now working with TIQ to market the course to other Latin American locations.
Queensland Trade and Investment Commissioner for Latin America Alex Pessagno said parts of the region had much in common with Queensland’s sun-and-surf lifestyle.
‘Surfing and the beach lifestyle are very popular in coastal areas of Latin America like central Chile and Peru,’ Mr Pessagno said.
‘It’s definitely a niche market where Queensland businesses can export the surf-side services and products that they do so well.
‘We’re really enjoying working with Gold Coast Surf City Inc to help them build their profile and business in the LatAm market.’
Promoting Queensland globally is one of the priorities of the Queensland Trade and Investment Strategy 2017–2022.
If you have a product you think could succeed in the Latin American market, connect with TIQ today.