Push for development
Whitsunday Island on state radar
THE PRISTINE shoreline of Whitsunday Island could be developed into accommodation by private investors.
The State Government recently announced it would be inviting private operators to submit expressions of interest for the development of adventure and tourism opportunities within the Whitsunday Island National Park.
Expressions of interest were also sought for Hinchinbrook Island and Great Sandy national parks.
Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said the government wanted to “partner with the private sector” to develop ecotourism experiences in locations around the state.
“The expressions of interest... are the first stage to make sure we develop sustainable tourism experiences that showcase the very best of Queensland.
Mackay Conservation Group has launched a petition telling the State Government to keep its ‘Hands off our National Parks’.
Co-ordinator Peter McCallum said national parks had been preserved for a particular purpose – to protect the scientific and ecological values and beauty of the natural landscapes of Queensland.
“National parks have not been set aside from development so that they can become the exclusive playground of a select few,” Mr McCallum said.
He believes the parks are the state’s most valuable asset.
“What we have seen in the past, in Tasmania, which is the model for this kind of development, is exclusive access,” he said.
“At this time we don’t know exactly what private developers will be asking the government... but there is every chance that these areas could become off limits to the public.”
Tourism Whitsunday general manager Natassia Wheeler said if executed properly the plan to develop could serve to benefit the area’s tourism industry.
“The key for us, is that we are away looking at ways to diversify,” she said. “We would be very interested to hear about the idea as long as it is the right kind of development. The greatest experiences in the world are developed in natural environments.”
“Our understanding is that the sort of development would be eco-tents or eco-cabins for 20-30 people.”
Ms Jones said the project was as much about conservation as it was about tourism.
“We want more visitors to be able to experience our ecotrails because we know that showcasing Queensland’s natural beauty will lure more tourists,” she said.
“One of the EOI design principles states proponents must ‘encourage visitors to appreciate and want to protect the national park’.
She said the development might include cabins, retreats, huts or glamping facilities, just like the ones already in place in other states.
DEVELOPMENT TARGET: Hill Inlet looking south along the iconic Whitehaven Beach, on Whitsunday Island. The island has been earmarked for possible development.