For regional Australia, it’s time to shine.
The latest figures show that Regional Australia is becoming a popular choice for tourists with 43 cents in every tourism dollar being spent in regional areas. In 2018, 9.2 million tourists visited Australia and spent $43.9 billion. It put tourism in the top five growth industries driving the future prosperity of Australia.
The Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) is aiming to further explore this trend. As part of the Federal Governments commitment to invest in new projects throughout regional Australia, the recipients of BBRF Round 3 were announced in March. Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Simon Birmingham, told Infrastructure Magazine that this round will provide more than $70 million for tourism infrastructure in regional Australia. This promises a huge boost to the many regional economies that rely on tourism.
According to Michael McCormack, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, “These projects will help build local economies and drive job creation, with more than 13,000 jobs to be supported throughout regional Australia, delivering career pathways and enabling people to stay in the communities they grew up in. It is projects such as these that ensure our regions remain strong, resilient and prosperous in the long term and I look forward to seeing these high-quality projects transform their local towns and communities and unlock regional Australia’s economic potential.”
Australian Opal Centre
One project worth mentioning from Round 3 of the BBRF is the Australian Opal Centre in Lightning Ridge, NSW. It has received $9.5 million towards the construction of a new energy-efficient cultural hub.
This distinctive project will produce far-reaching benefits for tourism in the area. It will also foster local and regional economic and cultural development. The new off-grid AOC building, designed by world-renowned Australian architects Murcutt + Lewin, is shaping up to be a celebrated architectural icon and model for energy-efficient design in semi-arid Australia.
Heading to North Queensland, Townsville City Council was another lucky recipient of the latest BBRF. Townsville City Council conceived a vision for Castle Hill to become an adventure hub. It aims to kickstart development of Townsville’s untapped tourism market and create ongoing, secure jobs.
The project will create new regional adventure, heritage and arts-based destination experiences. It includes the establishment of a light spectacular 300 nights a year; pop-up café and alfresco dining; adventure tourism opportunities (including zip lining), and a new pedestrian link directly from the CBD maximising access to the Hills summit. Close to $2 million has been allocated for this regional project.\
Down in South Australia, the District Council Of Franklin Harbour has received $3 million for the Healthy Oysters, Healthy Tourism, Cowell Foreshore project.
This project will see the redevelopment of the foreshore precinct. It will include an expanded marina, improved road infrastructure, commercial and restaurant buildings, an extended visitor information centre, and outdoor public space with adventure playground. Moreover, the project will provide critical alternative employment for farmers in this time of drought.
The Apple Fun Park
In Western Australia, $1.5 million has been allocated to the revitalisation of The Apple Fun Park in Donnybrook. Established 10 years ago, the park is Australia’s largest free playground and attracts 200,000 visitors each year. For the town of Donnybrook, it serves as a key economic and social stimulant.
You can view a full list of successful projects from the BBRF Round 3 here.
New Hotel Coming to MONA
However, those are not the only projects planning further development. Since opening its doors in 2011, the now-acclaimed Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) has seen 2 million people walk through the door and has truly raised the awareness of regional tourism to a higher level.
Now, plans have been submitted by MONA for a $400 million on-site hotel development. The design incorporates 176 rooms, an outdoor stage, indoor theatre seating, day spa, conference rooms, and auditorium. The ornate hotel will cantilever 53 metres from the lands’ edge over the water to its furthers point.
Looking to further tap into the regional tourism hype, a major advertising campaign emerged this month in China. Tourism Australia along with tourism operators like Qantas will spend $5 million for the advertising which will appear on billboards and metro stations across Chinese cities.
The campaign aims to persuade young Chinese urbanites that regional Australia isn’t as dangerous as they often perceive.
With Chinese tourists worth $11.5 billion a year to our economy, it makes sense to encourage these tourists to visit our regional areas.