New Whitsunday tourism project gains traction
THE wheels are in motion for a three-stage tourism development in the Whitsundays.
Rotary Club of Airlie Beach along with the Whitsunday Regional Council, this week, officially opened stage one of the Rotary Heritage Trail on the Bicentennial Walkway, a predecessor to a long-term tourism development project set to be completed in the next two to three years.
The club aims to generate public interest as they continue to expand the walkway, in the development of an information centre for the Airlie Beach region, a project estimated to cost well into the millions of dollars.
Rotary Club of Airlie Beach vice-president David Paddon said as tourism from family groups increased in the region, it was vital for the Whitsundays to develop mainland attractions that appealed to such tourists.
"We're reaching a point where the backpacker market is flat-lining and we are seeing an increase in family groups coming to the region,” Mr Paddon said.
"We have a new group of tourists that we must appeal to and as the community continues to recover from Cyclone Debbie, we are creating a way to drive more traffic to the area and give them a reason to stay longer.
"We estimated if we get tourists to stay an extra half day in the area and consequently staying an extra night, we could generate an extra $22 million in the local economy.”
The official opening of stage one was attended by Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox, Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen and Member for Whitsunday Jason Costigan, who all support the Rotary development.
Mr Paddon said as the Rotary Club of Airlie Beach identified walking trials as a popular and fast-growing tourist attraction in Australia, both stage one and stage two revolved around the development of a history-based walking trail though Airlie Beach and Cannonvale.
The stage one opening welcomed amendments to the Bicentennial Walkway, capturing the history behind a historic drinking well and widening of the original path along with information signs.
Construction of stage two is set to begin in the coming weeks and will include the erection of an estimated 12 signs along the walkway that further explain the history of the region. It is hoped they will be in place by the end of the year.
"We have a rich indigenous culture here and an interesting modern history and it's time for our community to collect and tell our story,” Mr Paddon said.
If anyone in the Airlie Beach, Cannonvale region has any historic relics or information from the area, Rotary Club of Airlie Beach's David Paddon can be contacted at 0414997942.
The club is also eager to document the community's support for an information centre so are encouraging those interested in the development to contact the club as well.