SKYWAYS in the Whitsundays and on the Gold Coast, a surfing theme park in Yeppoon, and upgrading a rainforest castle and Aboriginal rock art attraction in North Queensland are on a wish-list of recovery projects as Queensland tourism begins the long fightback from the coronavirus crisis.
Tourism leaders have identified about 20 projects they want to see get off the ground to reboot the $27 billion industry which has been crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
They range from the $2 billion Great Keppel Island Resort redevelopment to building 25 cabins at the historic Paronella Park rainforest castle attraction on the Cassowary Coast.
Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said while not all the projects were ‘shovel-ready’, they could be activated quickly with the help of state and federal governments and local councils to boost the recovery.
“As we are planning for the reboot of our industry post-COVID-19, it is the right moment to consider how we can turn the crisis into an opportunity for the communities that depend on tourism,” he said.
“Total disruption is what we have been subjected to (so) let us re-build better than ever.
“If we want to strengthen our competitive position in a tough consumer market, we must have the best experiences in place, supported by world-class infrastructure.”
Mr Gscwhind said most of the projects were in regional areas that had been hard-hit by the coronavirus lockdown, with all identified locally as priorities.
They include proposed cable-car projects in the Whitsundays and on the Gold Coast, where a ‘skyway’ to Springbrook has long been sought by the tourism industry.
The $2 billion Great Keppel Island Resort rebuild is the big-ticket item on the QITC’s recovery wish list.
Altum Property Group says it is ready to start work on the first stage of the planned 12-year project – forecast to create more than 2000 jobs – but is awaiting the green light from the State Government which has pledged $25 million to connect power to the island.
Commercialising a prototype surfing wave park, built by Gold Coast-based Surf Lakes at Yeppoon, is another project QTIC is keen to get up to stimulate regional tourism but Mr Gschwind said this would cost about $10 million.
Tourism Minister Kate Jones said a $50 million emergency tourism fund announced yesterday by her Government could be used for projects such as the Paronella Park upgrade and improvements to the Jaramali Rock Art attraction.
A mountain bike track earmarked for Mackay is also on Mr Gschwind’s recovery wishlist.
In the Brisbane region, he wants to see work start sooner rather than later on the mooted Brisbane Live indoor arena at Roma St, a ‘River Hub’ overnight boat berthing facility on the Brisbane River and indigenous tourism projects – including a whale interpretive centre – on North Stradbroke Island.
“We have a well-considered portfolio of regional opportunities that are just waiting to be activated in this post-COVID recovery and we are keen to work with the State Government to progress them,” Mr Gschwind said.
“As they say ‘fortune favours the brave’, never a moment like this to get motivated for a brighter future.”