Businesses welcome Eco-Tourism Development
Queensland Government’s announcement regarding approval of the highly anticipated Paluma to Wallaman Falls trek is welcome news to the Hinchinbrook business community.
This significant project has progressed quite quickly considering it was only in November 2018 that discussions surrounding the concept were initiated between industry stakeholders and government bodies at the international eco-tourism conference in Townsville, which in itself demonstrates the quality and value of the proposal.
Regional projects, especially eco-tourism projects, have enormous potential as tourism drawcards for North Queensland and more specifically, the Hinchinbrook Shire. After all, Hinchinbrook has a better chance of successfully competing on a world-stage if it does so as part of a collaborative effort that combines the resources, and embraces the unique offerings, of adjacent shires. The trek is envisioned to become a world-class tourism product that complements existing hiking adventures such as the Thorsborne Trail on Hinchinbrook Island and could prove a catalyst for further opportunities. The commercialisation of Wallaman Falls, in the form of a café or restaurant and perhaps even a “zip-line”, could one step closer to reality as the result of increased visitation and government policy surrounding eco-tourism in National Parks.
Plans for mountain-bike trails could similarly progress as priority projects thanks to an influx in adventurous and thrill-seeking visitors. Just as importantly, the economic stimulation and business opportunities created by the trek – both directly and indirectly – will increase investment and job creation in the shire while benefiting existing businesses across all industries. One can imagine that at the end of a 95km trek through the wilderness, hikers will be in need of a rest, and nature-loving visitors will be captivated by what Hinchinbrook has to offer.
Accommodation and hospitality businesses can expect an increase in trade, with retail and tourism operators also predicted to profit as visitors stay, play, dine and shop while taking in the beaches, wetlands, islands, culture and history of the shire. As existing businesses boom and new businesses emerge and jobs are created, the flow-on effect will be reaped by automotive, construction, health and professional services industries which in turn will create more jobs and further opportunities.
In the long-term, this project – in conjunction with several other significant projects on the horizon – could realistically lead to population growth and improved youth retention for our region as Hinchinbrook finally unlocks its overwhelming potential once and for all.