Casino licences spark debate in Whitsundays
THE announcement by the State Government that it may approve three more casino licences, including two in regional Queensland, has fuelled rumours that one of these may be in the Whitsundays.
Speaking about the new licences, Premier Campbell Newman would not confirm which resorts had shown an interest in integrating a casino into their development but he alluded to those he mentioned ear- lier this month when he returned from a trade mission in Asia – Hayman and Laguna Quays.
The suggestion that Whitsunday resorts may bid for the new licences has been met with mixed reactions.
Long time tourist operator Eric Bottle says a casino is just not the “Whitsunday thing”.
Mr Bottle, who has owned the Whitsunday Travel Centre since 1983, said people travelled to the Whitsundays for the natural beauty, not for the “glitz and glamour”.
“Casino people, I think, are more into big cities,” Mr Bottle said.
However, Whitsundays Marketing and Development CEO Danial Rochford said the State Government should be congratulated for making the decision.
He said the state needed investment like this in tourism and that the Whitsundays would enjoy a flow-on effect, even if a casino was not built here.
He said three new casinos in Queensland would result in a significant increase in the number of international tourists, particularly from Asia.
Mr Rochford said Queensland was a multi-destination state and the Whitsundays would therefore benefit from an overall increase in tourists.
Mayor Jennifer Whitney was unavailable to comment yesterday afternoon.
A Hayman Island Resort spokeswoman has confirmed there are no current plans to seek or secure a casino licence.
Meanwhile, Port of Airlie and Laguna Quays Resort have been contacted but neither had responded prior to our deadline yesterday.