$50M RE­SORT DREAM RE­BORN

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - Cas Gar­vey cas.gar­vey@dai­ly­mer­cury.com.au

DREAMS of an eco-re­sort that at­tracts 100,000 vis­i­tors a year ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the won­ders of a Whit­sun­day is­land is back on the ta­ble, with the Nat­u­ral Re­sources Min­is­ter pledg­ing sup­port to re-ig­nite the project.

Whit­sun­day MP Ja­son Costi­gan posed a Ques­tion on No­tice in State Par­lia­ment last month to Min­is­ter for Nat­u­ral Re­sources, Mines and En­ergy An­thony Lyn­ham about the is­land.

“Will the Min­is­ter ad­vise (a) the sta­tus of the lease on Hook Is­land at the date of the an­swer to this ques­tion, specif­i­cally in re­la­tion to the tourism in­dus­try and (b) what the Palaszczuk La­bor Gov­ern­ment plans to do once the lease ex­pires in June 2018?” Mr Costi­gan asked.

The min­is­ter has 30 days to re­spond to the ques­tion, and an­swered this week that the leases on Hook Is­land were trans­ferred to a new lessee in Jan­uary 2018.

“The Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources, Mines and En­ergy — to­gether with the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Science, the Depart­ment of In­no­va­tion, Tourism In­dus­try De­vel­op­ment and the Commonwealth Games, and the new lessee — is work­ing to proac­tively plan the way forward for the re­de­vel­op­ment and re-open­ing of the re­sort on Hook Is­land,” Mr Lyn­ham said.

“As Min­is­ter for Nat­u­ral Re­sources, Mines and En­ergy, I will be seek­ing to en­sure that this plan­ning pro­vides for the new lessee to re­alise the full tourism po­ten­tial of the Hook Is­land Re­sort.

“To en­sure the re-es­tab­lish­ment of Hook Is­land Re­sort as a tourist des­ti­na­tion, once de­tails of the re­de­vel­op­ment are agreed to, the lease will be ex­tended past June 2018, and will in­clude con­tem­po­rary lease con­di­tions with spe­cific and mea­sur­able de­vel­op­ment mile­stones.”

Hook Is­land Re­sort is cur­rently closed and a care­taker is in place.

Ac­cord­ing to Tourism Whit­sun­days, Hook Is­land is a bush­walk­ers’ haven, lead­ing walk­ers to se­cluded beaches with beau­ti­ful views, with ex­cel­lent snorkelling and div­ing sites.

The $50 mil­lion Hook Is­land Wilder­ness Re­sort Re­de­vel­op­ment Project was ini­tially launched in Au­gust 2007 by La­guna Is­land Ad­ven­tures Pty Ltd.

In its ini­tial ad­vice state­ment, pub­lished in 2007, it in­di­cated the re­de­vel­op­ment would of­fer sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic ben­e­fits for the re­gion and Queens­land, in­clud­ing:

■ Cre­at­ing a world class eco-tourism sig­na­ture in one of the most beau­ti­ful and sig­nif­i­cant nat­u­ral des­ti­na­tions in Aus­tralia

■ Fill­ing a void cur­rently in the mar­ket and cre­at­ing a new type of prod­uct (high qual­ity to­tal eco­tourism) for the Whit­sun­days at­tract­ing new seg­ments of the mar­ket that are not cur­rently vis­it­ing the Whit­sun­days

■ A to­tal de­vel­op­ment value of $50 mil­lion over three years

■ 180 per­son years of di­rect em­ploy­ment dur­ing con­struc­tion, peak­ing at 75 jobs in year 3

■ Wages and salaries of $15 mil­lion for the con­struc­tion work­force

■ Once fully op­er­a­tional, 55 jobs for the op­er­a­tion of the new eco-lodge and cabins, day and ed­u­ca­tion cen­tres, with salaries and wages of $3 mil­lion per an­num

■ An aver­age of 250 vis­i­tors stay­ing at the re­sorts at any one time, adding 90,000 guest nights stayed in the re­gion

■ Com­mu­nity ben­e­fits in­clud­ing greater train­ing and job op­por­tu­ni­ties for lo­cal peo­ple in the re­gion, par­tic­u­larly the young in hos­pi­tal­ity and eco­tourism.

PHOTO: LA­GUNA IS­LAND AD­VEN­TURES

$50M RE­SORT: The Hook Is­land mas­ter­plan lay­out.

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