A lockdown of the host city will begin from Monday (November 10) and residents are leaving en mass as the world leaders fly in.
The G20 is all about global economic growth but many businesses in Brisbane are at best confused about what the benefits will be for them.
“If I listen to a lot of the media I think it’s going to be dreadful and my place is going to get firebombed,” said Angela Hirst, owner of the Wandering Cooks in South Brisbane.
“If I listen to the neighbours, a lot of them are really confused and they don’t know if they should be staying open,”
The Wandering Cooks commercial kitchen is on the edge of the G20 exclusion zone near the Brisbane Convention Centre where the world leaders will meet.
Planned protests, a CBD lockdown and restrictions on workers accessing Brisbane are all adding to the uncertainty.
“We have customers that won’t be using the kitchens during the week because they won’t get many sales, office workers don’t have as much work, so we won’t have as much work,” said Ms Hirst.
Businesses fear a repeat of the APEC conference in Sydney in 2007, when takings plunged during the lockdown.
Major companies are relocating staff out of the Brisbane CBD, a G20 public holiday next Friday means bustling streets could be empty and businesses that do open will have to pay staff penalty rates.
“There is no compensation for businesses for the increased labour costs and the disruption of takings during G20,” said Nick Behrens, general manager of advocacy for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland.
Mr Behrens says there is frustration from business about the lack of information from authorities, especially about security measures in the CBD, to allow them to plan ahead.
“There’s a number of businesses that rightly think they should be compensated for the creation of the public holiday, the impact it has on their business, and potentially reduced customer takings during the course of the week.”
Authorities are telling businesses push aside their short-term interests and look at the bigger picture.
“If it’s a good summit, then it’s going to reflect very well on Brisbane and will create economic opportunities that in the years to come will hopefully spill over into all businesses, no matter where they are located in Brisbane,” said Mr Behrens.
“Interestingly the estimates of Brisbane hosting summit is only the gross stimulus, which is the $100m for the 4000 delegates and the 3000 journalists, that’s gross benefit, not net.
“There are a number of costs but we don’t yet know what they’ll be.”
That includes high business disruption insurance premiums for businesses in case they are affected by demonstrations.
One industry though is already feeling the direct benefit of the summit.
“The hoteliers in the city are certainly very happy, they are full, they will be busy all the way up to the G20 now and will be busy for a few days afterwards,” said Daniel Gschwind, CEO of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council.
The visit of so many high profile leaders, entourages and journalists will also have an unquantifiable future impact.
“We know for example that among six of the leaders that are coming, they have 155 million social media followers, so any good word they put out, which hopefully they will, will resonate around the globe,” said Mr Gschwind.
Brisbane’s international profile will undoubtedly get a boost but if many businesses harvest a long-term gain from the short-term G20 pain, that may never really be known.
“We’re all reasonably confused, but I think everyone is confused and we won’t know what it’s going to be like until it’s here,” said Ms Hirst of Wandering Cooks.
The G20 summit runs from Friday 14 to Sunday 16 November but road closures around the CBD will begin from Monday 10 November.