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You could excuse Mayor Andrew Willcox for thinking it is all too good to be true but the positive signals just keep flashing brightly for the Whitsunday Region.
Record tourism numbers, record airport growth, the only Queensland region to be part of the national Regional Tourism Infrastructure Investment Attraction Strategy and an invite from the Premier to join her on a trade mission to India.
The Whitsunday Region is the flavor of month and Mayor Willcox and his proactive councillors will not be resting on their laurels.
“For me it is not solely about Adani – it is obvious that the Whitsunday Region is being recognised for what it is – a truly wonderful place to live, visit and invest,” Cr Willcox said.
“This council has taken control of its own destiny by establishing positive networks with Federal and State government leaders and reconnecting with our community through open communication and numerous forums and consultation workshops,” he said.
“I had a call from Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk last Friday inviting me to join her on a trip to India with four other regional Mayors meet with Adani to discuss the $21 billion Carmichael Coal project.”
Mayor Willcox said next month’s visit would be a good opportunity to learn more in depth detail about the project in the Galilee Basin.
“This will be the last opportunity to push our region’s interests ahead of Adani making its final investment decision in April.”
The Whitsunday Region is also set for a massive cash injection after the region was nominated to be part of a new push to drive tourism infrastructure investment.
Tourism Minister Kate Jones made the announcement last Friday in Darwin, telling a tourism ministers’ meeting that the Whitsundays was an iconic tourism region in Queensland primed for growth and investment.
The Whitsundays is the only Queensland region to be part of the national Regional Tourism Infrastructure Investment Attraction Strategy.
Mayor Willcox welcomed the commitment from the State government which he hoped would prove an investment in job creation for the region.
“In the past six months we have secured an additional 200,000 seats which has dramatically increased traffic through our Whitsunday Coast Airport while visitation to the Whitsundays has seen record growth of 30 per cent,” he said.
“According to Tourism Whitsundays figures we are on track this year to exceed 1 million visitors to the Great Barrier Reef for the first time ever.
“Add to that Whitehaven Beach being voted best beach in Australia for the fifth year running and Ocean Rafting winning the top gong for Major Tour and Transport operators at the national awards.”
Ms Jones said the State Government would work with Austrade and Tourism Australia to “usher in a new era of tourism investment in the Whitsundays”.
“We want to do all we can to attract new investment to the Whitsundays including new hotels and resorts and new tourist attractions that will inspire more visitors to come to the region, grow the local economy and support more tourism jobs,” she said.
“That’s why I have nominated the Whitsundays to be front and centre of the Regional Tourism Infrastructure Investment Attraction Plan endorsed by tourism ministers today.”
The five-year plan will scope local investment opportunities and target international investors.