The tourism industry welcomes the news of Gina Rinehart’s move to develop Great Keppel Island

Tourist organizations in central Queensland have welcomed news that Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart has reached an agreement to potentially rebuild the resort on Great Keppel Island.

The once iconic resort off the central coast of Queensland closed in 2008 and has since had several false starts from companies trying to bring it back to life.

In a statement released over the weekend, Rinehart’s firm Hancock Prospecting said plans had begun to acquire the development project from its current tenant, Sydney-based developer Tower Holdings.

“We hope to be able to do better than it has ever been, with a world – class, year-round beach club, sand bars, shopping and more experiences revolving around a marina modeled on successful marinas like Puerto Banus, “statement read.

The agreement is still in its very early stages and subject to approval by local and state authorities.

An old and abandoned building with smashed glass windows on a beach.
The old resort on Great Keppel Island was demolished in August 2018 after 10 years of hibernation.(ABC Capricornia: Megan Hendry)

The tourism sector excited

Ross O’Reilly, president of the Great Keppel Island Progress Association, said it was good news, although finer details about the proposal were not yet known.

“I think there have been so many starts and nothing has happened that everyone is sitting back and saying ‘we will believe it when we see it’,” Mr O’Reilly said.

“It’s a very big project, and it’s huge to get the finances in this time to complete the project, and it will not be a problem for her.”

The region’s top tourism and development agency Capricorn Enterprise reiterated these sentiments.

CEO Mary Carroll said after months of speculation that it was wonderful to hear the news confirmed.

Ms Carroll said that while the deal was in an early conditional contract process, she was “absolutely in no doubt” that Hancock Prospecting could “deliver a truly world-class tourism development”.

A small boat sits on the sand.
Ms Rinehart’s firm Hancock Prospecting says plans for the island include a beach club, bars, an underwater bar, shopping and a marina.(ABC Capricornia: Blythe Moore)

Environmental protection is necessary

Keppel State Member Brittany Lauga agreed that the investment seemed to have the greatest chance of ending compared to previous attempts in the past decade.

“I really want to see that whoever does that makes sure that they protect the environment, that they use local contractors, that they use local workers, and that they do not lock the locals out of the island,” Lauga said.

She reiterated that the state government would look at the project management experience and financial ability of any applicant who wanted to have the lease transferred to them.

Mrs Lauga said she was aware that Mrs Rinehart had visited the island but had not met with her and was concerned about potential environmental impacts on the island.

“[But] I am also very confident in the approval processes for the state, federal and local authorities, “Lauga said.

“As long as they stick to the approvals, they minimize that environmental impact, and as long as our region gets a fair share out of it… but also that Hancock also works with the local Woppaburra people and island operators, I think we are in with a good shot. “

The Ministry of Resources said it had not yet received an application to transfer the lease.

In comes after the Minister of Resources rejected the developer Altum Property Group’s attempt to acquire the lease in June.

Tower Holdings declined to comment until a later date, when the deal is confirmed.

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