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Cairns $1bn Global Tourism Hub on Back-Burner

Cairns $1bn Global Tourism Hub on Back-Burner (1)

The Queensland government’s tour of the far north to kick-off construction projects has fallen short of its $1 billion “global tourism hub” expectations.

But the state government is still pushing ahead with the $176 million redevelopment of the Cairns Convention Centre to help support the tropical city, which has been devastated by the drop in tourism due to Covid-19.

The pandemic has caused the government to end its expressions of interest development campaign as the proposals “didn’t cut the mustard”, according to tourism minister Kate Jones.

“A global tourism hub requires not only international tourists but a multi-billion-dollar investment from a global investor. At this time, this is not realistic,” Jones said.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—we won’t commit prime waterfront real estate in Cairns if we can’t be certain that what will be delivered will bring thousands of extra tourists and give the tourism industry a leg up.

“The proposals we received just didn’t cut the mustard and didn’t represent value for the people of Cairns.”

The new convention centre was part of the state government’s global tourism hub plans, along with a multi-million dollar port upgrade.

Cairns $1bn Global Tourism Hub on Back-Burner (3)

Lendlease was appointed the major contract on the convention centre project, adding to the company’s construction footprint in the area, including the $60 million Cairns Central shopping centre redevelopment already in progress.

The Cairns Convention Centre was closed in April in preparation for the 10,500sq m expansion project and is expected to take two years to complete.

Key features of the redevelopment include a large, undercover, tropically planted drop-off and entry forecourt, an expanded main entry lobby, a 410-seat lecture space, three 120-seat meeting rooms and new exhibition space for up to 30 display booths.

Cairns $1bn Global Tourism Hub on Back-Burner (2)

Cairns Central shopping centre project is a private investment by Lendlease, which is also the owner of the centre as well as the managing contractor of the project.

The shopping centre is the largest retail complex in the city and upgrades include a 7,500sq m Myer refurbishment, a Woolworths-anchored food hall, parking improvements, children’s play area as well as additional amenities and upgrades to existing spaces.

Significant headway has been made on the project during the past year, with two stages of the Myer fitout already complete and works under way on the Spence Street express parking ramp.





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Cairns real estate: Buy and sell remains strong in a pandemic

Cairns real estate Buy and sell remains strong in a pandemic (1)

A global pandemic has not dampened demand for property in the Far North with many agents posting record sales.

A GLOBAL pandemic has not dampened demand for property in the Far North, with many agents posting record sales.

Elite Real Estate Services sales director Karl Latham said this week had been the firm’s busiest in months.

“Obviously there has been a big impact in a negative way on the share market and bricks and mortar is relatively safe,” he said.

“We’ve got high vacancy rates, the mortgage rate has dropped to about 2 per cent. In any previous economic shift, usually the property market is affected in a negative way, but not now.

“We have just got to adapt, really – there is still an intention out there to buy and sell.

“There are still rental properties on the market, there will still be people taking job transfers and needing homes, people moving away and selling.

“I think the market will go on – the conditions will make it more difficult for inspections, but we will all come out the other side, whether it’s (in) a few weeks or a few months.”

Cairns real estate Buy and sell remains strong in a pandemic (3)

RE/MAX Cairns principal Ray Murphy said that in the past 10 days his office had completed seven cash contracts.

“And they were not small either – they were for properties worth $400,000 to $800,000,” he said.

“We’re finding because the stock market is so vulnerable and unpredictable, people are pulling their money out and putting it in bricks and mortar, and we are seeing a positive flow-on from that.

“I’ve talked to first home buyers who have said ‘if I lose my job, I’ll have to pay rent, so I may as well buy the house because the house is cheaper’.”

An auction held on Tuesday at the Whitfield chapel recorded a 50 per cent clearance rate.

Cairns real estate Buy and sell remains strong in a pandemic (2)

For those who already own property, Mortgage Choice Cairns’s Lindon Reed said there were two ways to take advantage of a highly unusual economy.

“Look at your own individual circumstances. If you are in a casual job and the future is a bit uncertain, talk to the banks,” he said.

“If you’re in a safe job or you’re self-employed but stable and you’re expecting your income might drop a bit, considering refinancing, even if it is a 50/50 combination, so you’re getting that benefit of the reduction in interest rates.

“We are preparing for people to hunker down and take advantage of these low rates.

“People are starting to say the RBA doesn’t have too much room to move, we’re expecting things to flatten out a bit. The banks have already proven they are passing the cuts on. Earlier this month, all they did was drop the variable rate, never touched the fixed. This time (on Thursday), the variable stayed the same and they dropped the fixed. They are hedging their bets.”

With first homebuyer’s grants and the mortgage insurance guarantee certain to continue, according to Mr Reed, the property market should continue to get an injection from the younger demographic.

“The First Home Loan Deposit Scheme is going gangbusters, especially for smaller homes and units,” he said.




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Lendlease Leads $176m Cairns Convention Centre Upgrade

Lendlease Leads $176m Cairns Convention Centre Upgrade (1)

Lendlease will deliver stage one of the $176 million redevelopment of the Cairns Convention Centre for the Queensland government.

Stage one planning has now commenced with works expected to commence in May next year, when the centre closes for a roof replacement and refurbishment work.

The announcement comes as a decision is yet to be revealed on who will deliver Cairns global tourism hub, a billion-dollar waterfront development, touted as a major boost to the local economy through development, tourism and employment potential.

Three international firms were shortlisted to develop the $1 billion-dollar project, with proposals from The Star Entertainment Group, Reef Casino Joint Venture, and Hard Rock International, announced in March this year.

Lendlease Leads $176m Cairns Convention Centre Upgrade (2)

Lendlease, the current owner and operator of Cairns Central Shopping Centre, has delivered the Cairns Hospital and the original Cairns Convention Centre.

It was also behind Sydney’s International Convention Centre and the Adelaide Convention Centre.

Lendlease’s Brad Protheroe says the partnership with state government in delivering the project would “create jobs in local communities for women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, the long-term unemployed and apprentices”.

“Leveraging our local presence, we will continue to work with industry to ensure the engagement of local sub-contractors and suppliers,” Protheroe said.

Plans for the centre’s expansion includes a new entry, space for exhibitors’ booths, three meeting rooms covering a total of 420sq metres and a rooftop space.

Cairn’s convention centre’s last major upgrade was a $10 million update in 2005.

The centre’s doors are expected to reopen in 2022.

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Queensland Plans New Underwater Hotel

Queensland Plans New Underwater Hotel

An eco-tourism experience will see visitors sleep three metres beneath the ocean’s surface in a new sustainable “floating” hotel planned for the Great Barrier Reef.

A new three-level pontoon on Lady Musgrave Island has been announced, which will feature an observatory and underwater hotel.

Plans for the project include an underwater observatory with UV lighting, for visitors to experience the reef at night, bedrooms will have 360-degree underwater views of the reef, as well as upper decks to cater for diving, snorkelling and environmental data collection.

Queensland Plans New Underwater Hotel 1

Underwater hotels around the world include the delayed Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental in Shanghai, still under construction.

While the Mantra Resort in Zanzibar in Tanzania will set visitors back $1500 a night (lead image), and the ultra-luxury Conrad Rangali Island underwater hotel in the Maldives, which sits five metres below the surface, costs its guests up to $11,710 a night.

Underwater plans for the southern area of the Great Barrier Reef’s new hotel take a smaller and environmental approach.

The pontoon is planned to be 36 metres by 12 metres and offer accommodation for up to 24 people, expected to cost visitors up to $550 a night.

“All the decking on the pontoon is made from recycled materials and every lineal metre of our decking has 50 recycled milk bottles in it,” Lady Musgrave Experience managing director Brett Lakey said.

“So there’s great longevity of our lagoon and for our Pontoon design.”

Queensland Plans New Underwater Hotel 2

The state government said it will provide $1 million toward the project through its $36 million tourism infrastructure fund, announcing it would partner with Lady Musgrave Experience to deliver the pontoon.

“We know that tourism is now worth more than a billion dollars to the southern great Barrier Reef, and we want to see this continue to grow because it means jobs locally,” tourism minister Kate Jones said.

Jones said the development would attract an extra 160,000 visitors to the region each year.

“And drive more than $1.8 million in visitor expenditure.”.

Construction is expected to commence in August with plans to open to the public in April 2020.




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