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Many coastal mass tourism centres have attempted to reinvent themselves as they have grown from informal coastal towns into large cities. Lifestyle migration boosts urban growth as these cities become home to ‘permanent tourists’ attracted by the characteristics that attract tourism. Australia’s best known resort, the Queensland Gold Coast, provides a case study of a resort region experiencing similar transformations to those noted in Honolulu, Miami and Sitges, Spain. These cities have pursued broader socioeconomic resilience rather than the common strategy of simply expanding or improving their tourism appeal. Using literature review and documentary research, this paper traces how ideas of a ‘knowledge city’ have featured in Gold Coast planning history since the 1980s, through proposals including an ‘innovation corridor’, ‘research triangle’, a designated knowledge precinct and the development of universities and hospitals under plans and strategies for economic development. Although implementation has been sporadic, the case study demonstrates a continuity in narrative that has shaped outcomes towards the desired ‘knowledge city’, thereby creating a more cohesive urban structure integrating knowledge nodes, town centres and urban transport infrastructure investments. This case study will add knowledge to inform planners grappling with the transformation of similar coastal tourism areas into significant cities.
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