REVEALED: First look at tourism 'game-changer'
A MULTI-MILLION dollar project described as "an absolute game-changer" will be announced for the Whitsundays today.
The $8 million Reefworld pontoon project at Hardy Reef will have the capacity for 300 visitors a day and offer accommodation options for visitors, both above and below water.
Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said the pontoon would "be one of the most iconic tourism projects in the world".
"We want to invest in tourism attractions that we know will attract more visitors to the Whitsundays and support local jobs - this project will achieve just that.
"We're expecting an extra 60,000 visitors per year to the Whitsundays because we're building this new attraction, that means an extra $23 million in cash spent at local businesses.
"There is huge demand for a new pontoon in the Whitsundays. This will give more people the chance to see the Great Barrier Reef and will allow tourists to experience this natural wonder in new ways."
Ms Jones said the project - a partnership between State Government and Cruise Whitsundays - would support 10 jobs during the construction phase, but 35 positions would be created once operational.
The State Government will partner with Cruise Whitsundays to build the $8 million Reefworld pontoon project at Hardy Reef.
The Minister said the new floating pontoon would include an underwater observatory and would enable guests to access semi-submersible vessels and diving and snorkelling activities.
"The floating reef pontoon, which will measure 12 metres by 45 metres, will offer visitors the special chance to sleep overnight at the reef, either on the upper deck or in an exclusive underwater reef suite.
"It's an absolute game-changer for the local tourism industry. We expect the benefits to flow on to other businesses in the region."
The upper deck will provide up to 28 overnight visitors with comfortable beds under the stars while the underwater reef suites will cater for up to four overnight guests and offer expansive glass windows allowing guests to see marine life from the comfort of their private room.
Journey Beyond Group CEO Chris Tallent said he was excited to deliver this regional first tourism experience with the support of the State Government.
"The Reefworld pontoon, which will feature premium underwater accommodation, will offer fresh and unique ways for travellers to experience the Great Barrier Reef," he said.
"Cruise Whitsundays is proud to welcome thousands of Australian and international visitors to the Great Barrier Reef region every year. With the development of the new Reefworld pontoon, we expect to welcome many more."