GOLD Coast corporate heavyweights Terry Jackman, Terry Morris, Bruce Mathieson and John Hembrow are backing a renewed push to build a $100 million cableway in the Hinterland.
Morris, along with Mermaid Beach MP Ray Stevens, was behind the last attempt to bring a Cairns-style eco-attraction to the Gold Coast in 1998. That project failed after experiencing vocal public opposition.
However, this time all four businessmen are putting their shoulder into the latest proposal which they say the Gold Coast needs to stay abreast of competition from the global tourism market.
The partners have put seed funding up to get the project off the ground, although how much they are spending is not disclosed.
The consortium has already bought land at Neranwood where the proposed Gold Coast Skyride’s base station will be located – and they have indicated that the general public could buy shares in the venture once approved.
The 9km Skyride route will take in views of the Gold Coast skyline and travel along the Hinze Dam to Springbrook which could develop into a new hub for eco-tourists and day-trippers.
Jackman, chairman of the Gold Coast Skyrail consortium, says the project could take a year to gain approval and could be operating in time for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
“I have been involved on the Gold Coast in a lot of projects and this is up there with the most exciting,” says Jackman who concedes he is expecting opposition to the proposal.
“If you tried to build Sea World today you’d get opposition,” he says.
Jackman says it will be the first major tourism attraction to be built on the Gold Coast since Movie World in 1991, and he says the timing is right in the wake of growing offshore competition for the tourism dollar.
“When you’re competing with the likes of Singapore and Dubai and countries in Asia where they are building bigger and better hotels and theme parks, then we really have to get our finger out,” says the former Queensland Tourism boss.
“If the Gold Coast is to stay as the number one tourist attraction in Australia, then we are going to have to build facilities for people to come here and things for them to see.”
Jackman draws on the success of the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway in Cairns which took seven years to gain approvals, but has since been lauded as an environmentally-friendly tourist attraction.
“Not only is it far and away the number one attraction in north Queensland, but it has received all sorts of awards,” says Jackman.
Gold Coast Skyride has appointed Terry Moore as CEO due to his experience with the Cairns Skyrail development. Moore was CEO of Cairns City Council at the time George Chapman was seeking approval for Skyrail.
“I have seen first-hand how successful Cairns has been and I firmly believe that a similar cableway attraction here on the Gold Coast will meet with the same level of success,” says Moore.
Detailed plans have yet to be mapped out, but Moore says the project would deliver 600 jobs in construction and 280 jobs once it is operating.
“It will necessarily be subject to a rigorous planning process, including environmental impact study. It will be up to the state government to decide whether this goes ahead, but today is the start of a long, exciting and very transparent process.”
Moore says about 400,000 visitors travel to Springbrook by road each year. The consortium expects that the Skyride could attract up to 800,000 passengers a year.
“This will be a more ecologically friendly way to get there, and the views back to the Gold Coast and the dam are quite spectacular.”
Ray Stevens has been called upon to consult to the consortium and Jackman says he has obtained approval from the Integrity Commissioner to do so.
“Ray put an enormous amount of work in the last (proposal),” Jackman says. “We do need his input and his expertise.”
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