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Queensland Government commits $4.5 million for Far North tourism 

Queensland Government commits $4.5 million for Far North tourism 
July 10, 2019

The Queensland Government is to provide $4.5 million in funding for four new tourism projects in the state's Tropical North, with Queensland Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones noting that the money "will benefit the entire industry and help to grow our share of the international tourism market.”

Announcing the package, Member for Cairns Michael Healy advised "we’re working with Mandingalbay Yidinji Aboriginal Corporation (MYAC) and Tourism TNQ to capitalise on the strong demand from China for authentic cultural experiences.

“The government will work with Sunlover Reef Cruises to build new marine tourism infrastructure and create new opportunities for visitors to spend more time in TNQ when they come to visit.”

Also announced was a new partnership with the Ewamian Aboriginal Corporation to reopen the Talaroo historic hot springs. The UNESCO registered geo-spring near Georgetown has huge potential to attract people inland.

Healy added "these projects along with the Wangetti Trail and the government’s multi-million dollar investment in the Cairns convention centre and port are proof of our commitment to grow the tourism industry in TNQ.”

Funding announced included:

• $1.1 million for the Cairns-based Mandingalbay Yidinji Aboriginal Corporation (MYAC) for new cultural and eco-tourism experiences
• $560,000 to partner with Sunlover Reef Cruises to deliver marine tourism infrastructure
• $2.3 million to partner with the Ewamian Aboriginal Corporation (EAC) to build new tourism infrastructure and re-open the Talaroo historic hot springs near Georgetown
• $600,000 for the Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council (YASC) to re-develop their arts and cultural precinct.

Tourism TNQ Chief Executive Pip Close welcomed the Queensland Government’s announce of new infrastructure as the next step in cementing TNQ’s position as the best place to experience Australia’s Indigenous cultures, commenting “Indigenous tourism is one of the hero experiences of the tropical north as we have 83 Indigenous experiences with 57 of these owned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people."

Mandingalbay Yidinji Aboriginal Corporation (MYAC) spokesman Dewayne Mundrabyw welcomed the support for the East Trinity Project, noting "work on this project is proposed to start this month and be completed by August 2020. We look forward to expanding our capacity to grow the tourist market to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef and most importantly, deliver sustainable employment opportunities.”

Sunlover Group General Manager Sharon Sheldrake said funding would support a number of projects in North Queensland including construction of an extended pontoon at the outer reef location of Arlington Reef off Cairns and a purpose built semi-submersible vessel to provide non-swimmers the opportunity for a reef experience.

Sheldrake advised “in the Whitsunday region, the Long Island jetty, pontoon and gangway will be upgraded to allow for all year access to the northern part of the island.

“This infrastructure will provide a deep water access to the Happy Bay area and will allow day tourists to experience the many beautiful walks and trails on the island.”

The company expected these projects would attract an extra 11,800 visitors a year and contribute up to $500,000 in new visitor expenditure each year to the regions.

Sheldrake added “once operational, these projects will provide the company with the opportunity to expand its experiences to tourists over several pristine locations."

Funding for the Talaroo project will be used to build 60 new short-stay camping and caravan/RV sites, five glamping sites, a swimming pool and camp ground amenities.

The infrastructure will also include access upgrades including a two-lane access road, a carpark, boardwalks, picnic shelters and landscaping.

Ewamian Aboriginal Corporation Chairman David Hudson said the Talaroo Hot Springs were a world-class natural and cultural asset, stating "their re-opening will significantly add to the existing tourism offerings within the Etheridge Shire and the region.

“We expect the springs will generate $1.7 million a year, attracting about 7000 visitors a year during the peak season of April to September.”

Queensland Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said the funding support would be used to work with the Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council to redevelop the Yarrabah Arts and Cultural Precinct.

Minister Jones concluded “this work will help locals host new art exhibitions and provide an area for open air shows.

“It’s about showcasing Yarrabah’s unique cultural identity and history to visitors and creating jobs and new opportunities for small businesses.”

Images: Sunlover Reef Cruises; Minister Kate Jones at the funding announcement with Ewamian Aboriginal Corporation Chair David Hudson and General Manager Sharon Prior (top), other representatives of TNQ and Queensland tourism (centre); and the Talaroo historic hot springs (below).

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