by Peter Carruthers
AN ISLAND realtor has talked up the languishing Paradise Bay resort on Long Island, but there is no sugar-coating the destruction wreaked at the hands of Cyclone Debbie.
Already reeling from damage inflicted by a storm surge when Cyclone Marcia struck Yeppoon in 2015, the resort never had a chance to reopen before liquidators were appointed in 2016 and earlier this year TC Debbie dealt the knock-out blow.
The resort was bought in 2012 by a former Darwin couple who spent a year renovating but sold the property in 2014.
The horizon pool now lies cracked, subsiding and full of muck, the sand on the beach has been washed away and dying palm trees desperately struggle for a foothold on the rocky beach.
Flotsam has been pushed up into the bar and kitchen area and the decking is warped and broken.
According to Australian Islands website the resort has been "heavily reduced” from $4 to $1.5 million in a "quick post-Cyclone Debbie sale”.
Earlier this year after $3m was slashed from the asking price a LGBTI organisation showed interest in the resort.
Island resorts including Paradise Bay and resorts on South Molle Island, Hook Island, Lindeman Island and Brampton Island were all closed to visitors before Cyclone Debbie touched down, and during the storm many were totally destroyed.
Resorts on Daydream Island and Hayman Island were operating before being hit by the cyclone and Daydream is scheduled to reopen in August next year.
A spokesperson for the Department of Tourism told the Whitsunday Times island resorts were always going to "face unique challenges compared to mainland operators”, namely higher operating costs.
The department also conceded competition from South East Asia and South Pacific island resorts was having an effect on the local island resort industry.
"The Great Barrier Reef island resorts also face increasing global competition for their share of the tropical island visitor market, especially given Queensland's proximity to the lower cost offerings of South-East Asian and Pacific Islands,” the spokesperson said.
The Department of Tourism said the estimate value of tourism development projects in the Whitsundays totalled $2.7 billion from private investors, and though Lindeman, South Molle, Daydream Islands and Laguna Keys was on the list, Hook, Long Island and Brampton Islands were not.
However, Long Island Resort was pitched as an investment opportunity showcased at a recent investment forum.
In February the Department of Natural Resources and Mines said it was "working with four island resorts” to meet their rental obligations and "if required, will consider taking further action under the Land Act 1994”.
This week, a department spokesperson said payment on leasehold land was deferred mid way through this year in response to the impact of TC Debbie.
"The DNRM continues to work with those leasees owing rental arrears and, where a lease is in liquidation, with the appointed liquidators,” the spokesperson said.