Great Keppel plan gets the nod

Great Keppel plan gets the nod
By admin

Approval of the $600 million redevelopment of Queensland's Great Keppel Island is a "positive sign" for the revitalisation of Australia’s tourism infrastructure, according to tourism minister Martin Ferguson.

The federal government announced approval of the resort development on the island off Yeppoon today. It will be the first “Green Globe certified” tourist resort on the Great Barrier Reef and will feature a beachfront hotel, resort accommodation, a marina, retail village, day spa, golf course and upgraded airstrip.

Speaking to Travel Today at the launch of Tourism Australia’s “Best Jobs in the World” campaign in Cairns, Ferguson congratulated developers Tower Holdings for “sticking to their guns”. The firm initially submitted plans for the project in 2008, but they were rejected on environmental grounds.

“For Great Keppel this is a new opportunity,” he said. “It’s a high quality resort that will create jobs not only during construction but for the long-term.”

In addition, it will result in "better product offerings for both domestic and international tourists," according to Ferguson.  He referred to the Australian Tourism Investment program and Tourism Major Project Facilitation service which aim to encourage and facilitate similar investments.

Tower Holdings expects the resort’s construction to take 12 years, with the first stages to open in late 2014. The project is expected to create 1,400 jobs.

The approval included several “conditions” which aim to ensure the project meets environmental standards under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

However, environmentalists have expressed concerns that the development will have a negative impact on the Great Barrier Reef which could lead to UNESCO placing the natural wonder on the World Heritage endangered list in June, following a warning last year.

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