Whitsunday Airport to get upgrades to accept flights from China
SERIOUS discussions are underway about upgrading the Whitsunday Coast Airport so it is able to accept direct flights from China.
Whitsunday mayor Jennifer Whitney said this was just one of the outcomes of the recent 10-day trade mission to China, when she and Council's CEO Scott Waters formed part of a delegation that visited eight cities and took part in numerous meetings with Chinese officials.
A bid for a regional casino licence has also resulted from the trip.
On Friday, China Australia Entrepreneurs Association Incorporated (CAEAI) president Mr Raymond Wang and executive director of the Zelong Group from Macau, Mr Kyan Su Lone, will sign an agreement, overseen by the Whitsunday mayor, for Mr Kyan's expertise to be provided to the association in relation to a bid for a regional casino licence.
Mr Kyan's Zelong Group is the current holder of six casino licences in Macau and Mr Kyan is also the president of the Macau ASEAN International Chamber of Commerce.
Cr Whitney said Council was now working through a process which had the potential for the most significant development of tourism infrastructure in the Whitsunday region in more than 20 years.
"This will result in a growth in tourism to the region and eventually result in international access to the Whitsunday Coast Airport to allow direct international flights to the region and direct export access for our horticulture, agriculture and aquaculture products out of the region," she said.
Cr Whitney and Mr Waters were accompanied to China by local business people Tony and Lolita Laurent from AirlieBeach.com and Cr Kevin Collins from Fish D'Vine, who all paid for their own trips.
The delegation travelled overseas at the invitation of the CAEAI, whose members are private business investors. During the trip, the association organised a series of meetings with a mix of business leaders and investors, religious leaders, municipal and county government leaders and members of the central government.
Cr Whitney said these meetings were an opportunity to see first-hand and discuss in detail the different projects the CAEAI were aiming to invest in here, including a visitor shopping and restaurant precinct, hotel and casino developments and buddhist temple complex.
She said the CAEAI were genuine about investing in the Whitsunday region and that Council would do everything in its capacity to help make this a reality, including advocating to the state and commonwealth governments as required.
She also said that last year Council adopted a development incentive policy, which provided a 50 per cent discount on Council development costs.
Representatives of the CAEAI and a delegation of Chinese businesses are in the Whitsunday region this week to further discuss development options and look at potential development sites.
Cr Whitney said there were a large number of land parcels under review but no development applications had been received as yet.