$50 million Hook Island resort back on the table
DREAMS of an eco-resort that attracts 100,000 visitors a year experiencing the wonders of a Whitsunday island is back on the table, with the Natural Resources Minister pledging support to re-ignite the project.
Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan posed a Question on Notice in State Parliament last month to Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Anthony Lynham about the island.
"Will the Minister advise (a) the status of the lease on Hook Island at the date of the answer to this question, specifically in relation to the tourism industry and (b) what the Palaszczuk Labor Government plans to do once the lease expires in June 2018?" Mr Costigan asked.
The minister has 30 days to respond to the question, and answered this week that the leases on Hook Island were transferred to a new lessee in January 2018.
"The Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy - together with the Department of Environment and Science, the Department of Innovation, Tourism Industry Development and the Commonwealth Games, and the new lessee - is working to proactively plan the way forward for the redevelopment and re-opening of the resort on Hook Island," Mr Lynham said.
"As Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, I will be seeking to ensure that this planning provides for the new lessee to realise the full tourism potential of the Hook Island Resort.
"To ensure the re-establishment of Hook Island Resort as a tourist destination, once details of the redevelopment are agreed to, the lease will be extended past June 2018, and will include contemporary lease conditions with specific and measurable development milestones."
Hook Island Resort
Hook Island Resort is currently closed and a caretaker is in place.
According to Tourism Whitsundays, Hook Island is a bushwalkers' haven, leading walkers to secluded beaches with beautiful views, with excellent snorkelling and diving sites.
The second largest island in the Cumberland group, it is 58sq km in size and includes sheltered, picturesque bays, deep fjord-like inlets, ideal sailing and kayaking conditions, multiple moorings and safe anchorages, pristine fringing reefs, secluded beach campsites and the opportunity to see abundant wildlife including sea eagles, kites and ospreys, turtles, reef fish, dolphins, manta rays and humpback whales frolicking in Whitsunday Passage (between June to September).
Many of the tours will bring visitors to Hook Island to experience the snorkelling at Maureen's Cove and Luncheon Bay or stay overnight at picturesque Stonehaven beach. Macona and Nara inlets offer gorgeous, sheltered overnight anchorages. At the very bottom end of Nara inlet you will find a magic fresh-water rock pool and stunning waterfall after season rains.
Walk up the short rocky path to the Ngaro cultural site where you will see ancient rock wall paintings and an interactive display on the history of the Ngaro Aboriginal people.
The redevelopment project
The $50 million Hook Island Wilderness Resort Redevelopment Project was initially launched in August 2007 by Laguna Island Adventures.
In its initial advice statement published in 2007, the redevelopment would offer significant economic benefits for the region and Queensland, including:
- Creating a world class eco-tourism signature in one of the most beautiful and significant natural destinations in Australia
- Filling a void currently in the market and creating a new type of product (high quality total ecotourism) for the Whitsundays attracting new segments of the market that are not currently visiting the Whitsundays
- A total development value of $50 million over three years;
- 180 person years of direct employment during construction, peaking at 75 jobs in year 3;
- Wages and salaries of $15 million for the construction workforce;
- Once fully operational, 55 jobs for the operation of the new eco-lodge and cabins, day and education centres, with salaries and wages of $3 million per annum;
- An average of 250 visitors staying at the resorts at any one time, adding 90,000 guest nights stayed in the region;
- Community benefits including greater training and job opportunities for local people in the region, particularly the young in hospitality and ecotourism.
"Study of the daily spend per guest and number of guest nights indicates that tourist spending arising from visitors both staying and visiting the Hook Island wilderness resort accommodation would exceed $28 million annually, representing a significant increase in visitor spending in the Whitsunday Shire," the original proposal stated.