CQ OPPORTUNITIES: Aerial view of the currently closed Capricorn Resort, which was ripe for revitalisation.
CQ OPPORTUNITIES: Aerial view of the currently closed Capricorn Resort, which was ripe for revitalisation. Nathan White Images

Capricorn Coast poised to harness booming Asian growth

AS WEALTH continues to build for our Asian neighbours, they are looking to the Capricorn Coast as the new land of opportunity.

Word is slowly spreading about the pristine environment in our backyard and if some clever investing was done in CQ infrastructure now, big rewards could be reaped down the track.

NAIF CEO Laurie Walker said the board of infrastructure was very aware of positioning Northern Australia to take advantage of the burgeoning Asian economy over the coming years.

"I think there's an amazing story to be told about the growing middle class in Asia," Ms Walker said.

"It's saying by 2030, two thirds of the world's middle class and 50 per cent of the world's GDP will be in the Asia Pacific.

"That is just staggering, you're got this massive increase in the Asian middle class going from 500m in 2017, forecast to be over three billion by 2030 - that's 12 years away."

Drone photos from Great Keppel Island for Keppel Water Sports.
Drone footage of Great Keppel Island shows its natural beauty. Anthony Vaughan

She said, like with any middle class, they're wanting access to clean green food, particularly protein, agriculture, aquaculture, medical services, educational services, tourism and all of these things, North Australia was able to deliver.

"There has never been a time in history when that demand that is so proximate to Northern Australia is there and we are really the only developed nation in the world with the proximity and the capability and the world class regulatory standards that are what that middle class are looking for."

NAIF CEO Laurie Walker
NAIF CEO Laurie Walker Contributed

Livingstone Shire Mayor Bill Ludwig is very aware of the opportunities that are waiting to be harnessed by tapping into the Asian market.

He said local governments were increasingly being asked to play a pivotal role in facilitating and encouraging international trade, investment and tourism opportunities.

After being invited to participate in a Federal Government Trade Mission to Singapore last year, Cr Ludwig said the key to achieving greater regional economic outcomes was to develop a collective and targeted strategic approach.

"From primary production and natural resources, to industry, innovation, education, tourism and lifestyle; Central Queensland is in a pivotal position to capitalise on the opportunities presented by rapidly growing China and Asian markets," Cr Ludwig (pictured) said.

"The growing interest from China in relation to developing trade and investment opportunities here in Central Queensland was further highlighted by the direct invitation extended to Livingstone last year to visit China to establish friendship city and economic bonds with both the city of Yangzhong and town of Xinba, in Jiangsu Province.

"Yangzhong and Xinba have highly diversified economies that include a formidable reputation as a world leader in solar energy research, development and manufacture."

Livingstone Shire Council mayor Bill Ludwig.
Livingstone Shire Council mayor Bill Ludwig. Contributed.

As part of that trip, he said the Livingstone delegation was also invited to make presentations to promote our region at both the annual Green Energy Conference in Yangzhong and International Furniture Fair launch in Shanghai.

"The Yuexing Group is currently now researching and investigating investment opportunities including the potential development of island and mainland based tourism operations."

LAGOON PRECINCT: Yeppoon residents and tourists will soon be able to relax by the water's edge at the Yeppoon Lagoon precinct.
LAGOON PRECINCT: Yeppoon residents and tourists will soon be able to relax by the water's edge at the Yeppoon Lagoon precinct. Contributed

While it was still early days, Cr Ludwig said the recent investment visits certainly confirmed that there was a genuine interest to establish Central Queensland as a potential major destination for the growing outbound China tourism market.

Knight Frank and Pat O'Driscoll Real Estate principal director Pat O'Driscoll (pictured) said he had been approached by various national and international groups over the years who were looking for opportunities beyond Australia's capital cities.

Pat O'driscoll for PO'D Real Estate

Photo Jenna Johnstone / Morning Bulletin
Pat O'driscoll for PO'D Real Estate Photo Jenna Johnstone / Morning Bulletin Jenna Johnstone ROK140515jreales

"We are in the process of hosting various Asian groups who have recognised the natural beauty of our region with the coast and are also now coming to understand the depth of opportunity and the strength of the very diversified economy that Central Queensland has," Mr O'Driscoll said.

"There's also a growing knowledge about the strength of our grazing and agricultural industries.

"Now that they have inspected the assets on offer, tourism is something that they recognise as an industry that could launch this area on the national and international stage."

Mr O'Driscoll said high profile visiting delegations were amazed by the beauty that the Capricorn Coast and island group had and did not know existed prior to the inspections.

"They're going through their due process, looking at what opportunities there are before they go to that next phase where they select property and purchase it," he said.

"They are gathering their knowledge, starting to understand the region in depth and are now starting to drill down to the particular properties that really take their interest."

One group has been back four times over the past three years.

Mr O'Driscoll said although they weren't across the line by any means, to have a group come back so many times showed a strength of faith, willingness and a growing interest.

ALP Candidate Brittany Lauga
Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga. Trish Bowman

Keppel MP Brittany Lauga regards the economic future of tourism in Central Queensland as being intrinsically linked to our relationship with Asia.

She said her government was focused on strengthening direct links with Asia noting that last year alone, a record 488,000 Chinese visitor Queensland last year spending $1.08 billion.

The local economy will benefit from a flourishing GKI, and the State Government is putting $25 million in funding on the table to ensure more jobs in the region's tourism industry.

An aerial shot of GKI
An aerial shot of Great Keppel Island, which the State Government has committed to investing in. Contributed

Included in the $25 million GKI recovery package are key power and water connections, sewerage treatment, a public jetty and boat ramp as well as amenities for visitors, including public toilets.

The GKI commitment was part of a $134m package to secure more direct international flights and cruise ships and rejuvenate Great Barrier Reef island resorts if the Palaszczuk Government was re-elected.

"The Palaszczuk Government has already secured new international flights bringing an additional 740,000 seats and injecting $570 million into our economy every year," Mrs Lauga said.