NQ Eco-tourism Project
National park eco-tourism project planned for coastal strip north of Cairns
Posted on 31.05.2018
The Queensland Government is planning to fast track a new tourism venture on a stretch of pristine national park close to the Great Barrier Reef in the state’s far north.
It will include a 76-kilometre bikeway and walking trail known as the Wangetti Trail from Palm Cove to Port Douglas, north of Cairns.
The venture is expected to include eco-accommodation options such as glamping or cabins.
The Government committed almost $1 million to prepare a business case, which Tourism Minister Kate Jones said she hoped would be finalised by September so construction could begin next year.
The announcement has come amid growing concern over a number of resorts on sites leased by the State Government that have been closed for years, are sitting in ruins and in some cases in arrears to the Government.
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Ms Jones described the latest project as “significant”.
“A new day is dawning for tourism in Queensland,” she said.
“This is the first eco-tourism project that will see glamping and cabins on national park here in Queensland.
“We are bringing Queensland tourism into a new era.”
The feasibility study comes almost a year after a joint $50,000 feasibility study was launched by Cairns and Douglas shire councils.
Douglas Shire Mayor Julia Leu said they expected the tourism scheme to create 75 jobs during construction, and 150 ongoing positions to run it.
“This has been a priority project for many years. This will be a world-class attraction, it will provide a lot of jobs,” she said.
“This funding enables the completion of a detailed design and also an economic business case.”
Traditional owners have been consulted to help with the design.
The State Government is also calling for tenders to build new accommodation and additional bushwalking trails in another national park on Whitsunday Island, off Airlie Beach in north Queensland.
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said the moves were questionable in the light of other struggling tourism ventures.
“We all know Queensland is the most beautiful place in the world, but this from a government who has no plan to recover some $750,000 of debt and they haven’t fixed the bungles on the other islands,” Ms Frecklington said.
In recent years, resorts on Dunk, South Molle, Lindeman and Hinchinbrook islands have either been struggling or have closed and been left in ruins after the global financial crisis and the impacts of tropical cyclones.
Brisbane-based Greens MP Michael Berkman said he was concerned about the extent of control given to private companies over national park land.
“The last thing I want to see is privatisation by stealth of our beautiful national parks, especially such an amazing part of the world that they’re looking at up there,” he said.
“When we have private tourism operators in our national parks, they drop the can and walk away … which is not going to be good for us economically and it’s certainly not good for the environment and those national parks.”
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