Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - TONY RAGGATT

AN Aus­tralian Mu­seum of Un­der­wa­ter Art off Townsville could boost the re­gion’s tourism visi­ta­tion by hundreds of thou­sands of peo­ple a year, a busi­ness event has been told.

Ac­claimed Bri­tish in­ter­na­tional sculp­tor Ja­son deCaires Tay­lor is vis­it­ing Townsville this week to as­sess the fea­si­bil­ity of es­tab­lish­ing un­der­wa­ter sculp­ture at four sites.

He has been in­vited to the re­gion by an Aus­tralian Mu­seum of Un­der­wa­ter Art Project Team backed by Townsville En­ter­prise, the Townsville and Palm Island coun­cils, James Cook Univer­sity, en­vi­ron­men­tal con­sul­tancy Reef Eco­logic and ma­rine op­er­a­tor SeaLink.

Speak­ing af­ter a Townsville Bulletin Busi­ness Break­fast yes­ter­day, Mr deCaires Tay­lor said some of his projects at smaller lo­ca­tions at­tracted about 40,000 peo­ple a year, while an un­der­wa­ter mu­seum off Can­cun, Mex­ico – which he said would be of a sim­i­lar scale to the Townsville proposal – at­tracted about 400,000.

“( Visi­ta­tion) could be within that range,” Mr deCaires Tay­lor said.

Townsville En­ter­prise CEO Pa­tri­cia O’Cal­laghan said the project was some­thing which could cre­ate a much- needed tourism seachange.

SeaLink Queens­land gen­eral man­ager Paul Vic­tory said a bud­get of about $ 2 mil­lion was be­ing con­sid­ered for the un­der­wa­ter mu­seum.

Al­ready, the Mor­ris Group, which owns the The Ville Re­sort- Casino and the Or­pheus Island Re­sort, has pledged $ 200,000.

“It’s never easy y to raise $ 2 mil­lion but I’m con­fi­dent that the North Q u e e n s l a n d c o r p o r a t e com­mu­nity is com­ing to the ta­ble,” Mr Vic­tory said. There is also hope of sup­port from gov­ern­ment.

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