BUILDING ON HOUSE BOOM
State’s tourism and construction provide hope for economy
DESPITED the Queensland economy sliding into the doldrums, housing construction and development in the southeast, and tourism statewide, are beacons of light.
There has been a 22 per cent increase in the number of residential houses approved by councils compared to the previous year, taking it up to 30,000 approvals in 2014.
Regional cities, such as Logan and Ipswich, are taking it up to Brisbane in terms of the approvals and projects greenlit, topping the list for residential lot approvals. Moreton Bay had the highest number of housing approvals.
Master Builders Queensland executive director Grant Galvin said the industry had recorded its best figures since the global financial crisis. “It’s driven by low interest rates and no change in unemployment,” he said. “As mining has come off, housing and construction have picked up. We’re buoyed by the residential sector driving the economy at the moment.”
Booming Logan City had approvals for 2700 lots and 1500 houses in 2014. Mayor Pam Parker said the development of the major satellite cities of Flagstone and Yarrabilba were at the centre of the city’s growth spurt.
“It stimulates the local economy and that flows through to the tradies and the whole region,” she said.
Urban Development Institute of Australia Queensland boss Brett Gillan said the approvals boom had been a growing trend for the past 12 months.
He expected the development boom to continue in the southeast, particularly while the housing market was more affordable than Sydney or Melbourne.
Meanwhile, international visitors are ensuring the state’s tourism industry remains buoyant. Tourism Research Australia figures show foreign tourists injected a record-breaking $4.6 billion into the Queensland economy in the year to June.
Results were positive across most of the state, with 2.23 million international visitors arriving in Queensland, up 7.7 per cent on the previous year.
Townsville was the sur-
prise, recording a 26.7 per cent increase in visitor numbers, while the Fraser Coast (up 14.1 per cent), the Southern Great Barrier Reef (10.8 per cent), the Sunshine Coast (10.6) and Whitsundays (10.2 per cent) were other big movers.
Brisbane also recorded a 9.6 per cent increase, pushing its annual international visitor numbers to almost 1.07 million. Queensland’s 2.23 million visitors spent an average of $2000.
Part of the performance has been attributed to a focus on food tourism. Tiffany Shih, of Taiwan, dined in Surfers Paradise yesterday, savouring million-dollar views of one of the world’s most famous stretches of sand to go with her meal. “I love the food here,” she said. “There are so many different flavours.”
For Australian travellers, the Aussie dollar may be slipping but there is still plenty of firepower for would-be world travellers. The dollar’s powerful ride against the greenback took a tumble yesterday falling below US70¢ for the first time in six years, from its peak of $US1.10 in 2011. It’s tipped to fall lower still to US60¢.
To secure against nasty future drops, travellers are urged to consider locking in ex- change rates early, or look at different destinations.
Commonwealth Bank currency strategist Joseph Capurso said the Aussie dollar was expected to improve against New Zealand, Japan and Europe in the next six months.
The dollar trades at $NZ1.10 now, but is likely to bump up to $NZ1.15 by March.
Although the dollar has dropped more than 20 per cent against the US in the past year, travellers could consider a holiday in Canada, where it has only fallen 6 per cent. Visitors to Russia will make an extra 31 per cent against the ruble, compared to a year ago.