#mymackay first place winning photograph of Eungella by Mick Vivian.
#mymackay first place winning photograph of Eungella by Mick Vivian.

Opportunity to grow Mackay into tourism mecca

A LUXURY eco-adventure lodge hidden in the hills of the Pioneer Valley has been earmarked as a "catalytic" future development to drive Mackay's tourism economy.

The $30 million wellness and eco-adventure lodge proposed at Eungella would be a new accommodation development with a wellness day spa facility.

It is one of two priority projects flagged as a development that could leverage new investment and grow the tourism sector in the long term.

External evaluators Stafford Strategy highlighted the projects in an opportunity analysis prepared for the region.

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Mackay Tourism CEO Tas Webber said the region had often failed to attract private investment in the past.

The opportunity analysis has identified 53 seed funding opportunities to counteract this and to drive recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

These include long-term projects like the eco-adventure lodge, a high-end costal resort and the Mackay PDA as well as short-term projects like the mountain bike precinct, day tours to Eungella and Cape Hillsborough and an underwater dive trail attraction.

The second priority project is a fishing lodge at Theresa Creek Dam in the Isaac region that would offer accommodation and dining facilities for in-house guests and day visitors.

Mackay Tourism CEO Tas Webber.
Mackay Tourism CEO Tas Webber.

Stafford Strategy undertook cost-benefit analysis for both developments to provide potential investors with economic information to assess their interest.

Mr Webber said the two lodges were a long-term vision for what tourism could become in the region if the small-ticket goals were reached and if the region's visitation retuned post pandemic.

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"The opportunity analysis looks at the short-term and long-term needs for tourism in the region like the Wellness & Eco-Adventure lodge at Eungella that we will be striving to achieve well into the future," he said.

"The idea is a living document of large long-term projects so that if we keep with the growth we could entice a large investment into the future."

Nikita Kiri took this platypus photo at Eungella National Park Photo: Contributed
Nikita Kiri took this platypus photo at Eungella National Park Photo: Contributed

The opportunity analysis found the minimal touring product on offer was a "clear product gap" in the market that could easily be filled as the cost of activating tour opportunities was "far lower" than developing new visitor attractions.

The report proposed island day trips from Mackay, Cape Hillsborough tours, nature and food-based tours and fishing charters as viable options.

Mr Webber said the document was provided to some local operators last month and had already inspired forward thinking growth plans.

You can read the full document here.