Gold Coast adventure business climbing out of adversity

One of the Gold Coast’s longest running adventure-based businesses says it has been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic closures – but says Gold Coasters are literally climbing the walls, out of their imposed lockdown to attempt new adventures.

Dave Payne, who has operated the Paramount Adventure Centre at West Burleigh for almost 30 years, says while turnover dropped to zero for almost three months, he is now seeing a new wave of Gold Coasters reinvigorating not only his business but the sport of rock climbing.

This includes a small group of die-hards, including Tihana Picot, a rock climbing ‘young gun’ who has welcomed the re-opening of the centre as she pursues an Olympic dream with the sport of rock climbing scheduled for the next Olympics.

“It’s been a very tough time for us – definitely the worst we have seen in almost 30 years in business,” said Mr Payne.

“We basically locked the doors. We had no turnover for nearly three months and even now with the restrictions lifted – like restaurants – there are limits to how many people we can have in our gym and doing the other activities we offer, such as kayaking, abseiling and surfing.

“But we hope there’s a silver lining. Not only do we have people like Tihana, part of a small group of hardcore climbers, but we have noticed families coming into the centre who have never climbed before.

“With the school holidays starting we’re hopeful that people from the Gold Coast will come and support us and other tourism-related businesses that have been so adversely impacted.”

Mr Payne said he was forced to stand down 12 casual staff because they were ineligible for the JobKeeper package offered by the Federal Government, but retained two staff who were full-time employees.

“With the uncertainty over the border closure, we like many other adventure and tourism businesses, are relying now on locals to support us as we begin to rebuild,” he says.

“And we’re definitely getting the sense that people want to come and support us.

“It’s going to be a long road back as the new regulations reduce the number of people we can have in the rock climbing gym at any one time, so that really does impact on revenue.

“I don’t really see this changing any time soon, so we are just focussing on providing an amazing experience for our existing customers as well as newcomers to the sport of rock climbing and other adventure activities.

“It’s a very good, safe form of exercise that is suited to families.”

Mr Payne said the announcement that rock climbing would be included in the Olympics in Japan – schedule for this year but postponed due to Covid – was driving a new breed of young climbers.

“We have a whole group of young kids coming in that are very, very good at rock climbing.

“We have all the facilities here for them to hone their skills and people like Tihana are progressing really well and even have aspirations of competing at the Olympics in the future.

“We work with young groups to give them every opportunity in a controlled environment to equip them with the skills they need to be the very best, and this is very satisfying for us as a business.”

The Paramount Adventure Centre is located at 38 Hutchinson Street, West Burleigh.

For more information visit https://www.paramountadventures.com.au/.