In a major milestone for Queensland tourism, Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones has announced work had begun on the first projects under the government’s $25 million Great Barrier Reef Island Resorts Rejuvenation Program.
Clean-up work is under way at Green Island Resort, 27 kilometres off the coast of Cairns.
Ms Jones said Green Island was one of 10 Great Barrier Reef Islands to receive government funding to rejuvenate Great Barrier Reef Island resorts.
“Today is a historic day for Queensland’s tourism industry as we mark the start of more than $25 million in work on our Great Barrier Reef islands,” she said.
“The resorts on our Great Barrier Reef islands were once hugely iconic for our tourism industry. We want to see these resorts restored back to their former glory – that’s why we’re partnering with the private sector to deliver public facilities and attractions on the islands.
Member for Cairns Michael Healy said Green Island is also a popular day destination – welcoming about 350,000 visitors a year.
“It’s been a tough start to the year for tourism operators in Tropical North Queensland but everyone agrees that the Reef is crucial to growing our share of the tourism market,” he said.
“Today’s announcement is a great win for Cairns.
“The rejuvenation works started with the removal of the island’s decommissioned underwater observatory underway. Within weeks we’ll start to see more workers out on the island updating and refurbishing the day visitor amenities – like the two dining areas that are used by up to 2000 visitors a day.”
Quicksilver Group Managing Director Tony Baker operates Green Island Resort and said the underwater observatory was installed in 1954 but had been closed for the past six years.
“Sadly, after 65 years and an engineering report deeming the facility unsafe to be re-opened to the public, the time has come for it to be removed from the Marine Park.”
Member for Cairns Michael Healy said significant long-term environmental benefits will also be achieved by introducing solar power generation to the island and improving power efficiency to cut 40 per cent of current diesel fuel usage.
“This will help Green Island achieve an annual reduction of 620 tonnes of carbon emissions.”
Mr Healy said improvements to waste management systems would enable waste to be treated on the island and would cut general waste volume to landfill by 50 per cent.
“These initiatives leverage recent work undertaken as part of the Queensland Government’s $1.73 million commitment to support decarbonisation of the Great Barrier Reef islands and will also directly support the Our Future State priority to achieve a 30 per cent reduction in 2005 net greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
“Together these projects will help to grow visitor numbers, improve environmental sustainability and achieve operational cost saving efficiencies for Green Island Resort.”