$65m water park and eco resort to kickstart tourism
THE pandemic has secured the future of the Sunshine Coast's first major themed tourist attraction in more than three decades - a new $65 million water park and eco-resort expected to be finalised in coming weeks.
While jobs and investment are in turmoil due to the virus, the outbreak has provided a timely boost to the business case for the long-awaited project earmarked for a 14ha site at Glenview, 90km north of Brisbane.
Proponents told The Courier-Mail that an economic analysis predicting a trend of "cocooning" - or short stay domestic holidays - had given them the perfect platform to launch the attraction, first considered in 2014.
Actventure, featuring a host of free fall, raft and tube slides up to 14m high and 25 thrilling rides - some not seen before in Australia - will be the third-largest water park in the state after Wet'n'Wild and WhiteWater World.
Construction of the park and its integrated "multi-generational'' tourism resort, called Invigorate, on Steve Irwin Way, is hoped to start later this year and it could be open by the end of 2022.
It is anticipated to attract more than 220,000 visitors and 50,000 room nights annually, as well as generate 300 construction jobs, 200 full-time equivalent positions once operational and $41 million per annum for the local economy.
It will be the Sunshine Coast's first new major themed attraction in 31 years, with the history of Aussie World and Sea Life Mooloolaba dating back to 1989, the Big Kart Track to 1983 and the region's biggest and most awarded gem, Australia Zoo, to 1970, when it was known as the Beerwah Reptile and Fauna Park.
Privately-owned development and investment company, Sanad Capital, which has strong ties to Dubai, is behind the project.
Sanad's managing director, Bradley Sutherland, said he would work through the remaining conditions with council in the coming weeks and this would finalise the groundbreaking venture and allow it to get under way.
Mr Sutherland said the pandemic had made the attraction even more relevant and the time was right to advance it.
"The market demands this. The ongoing impacts of COVID-19 on domestic and international travel means we're seeing a resurgence of support for local tourism, and the rising need to complement existing holiday offerings with exhilarating and refreshing experiences to fulfil the needs of Australian travellers and allow them to escape the ordinary."
Mr Sutherland said Actventure's family-oriented water park and Invigorate integrated tourism resort complex would offer 161 self-contained family-friendly one to three-bedroom villas (269 beds), local farm to table experiences, open-air cinema, sports club, water-based activities including stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking, plus the massive water park.
Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Simon Latchford said Actventure and its integrated Invigorate resort would be an excellent fit for the region.
"Now, more than ever because of the coronavirus, we need appropriate, high-profile attractions like these that complement our brand, which encompasses water, beaches, rivers and the amazing Glass House Mountains,'' he said.
"We get development, and the need for growth, but must maintain our extraordinary landscape. Attractions can be created but have to fit with the brand like this does."
Sunshine Coast Council's planning spokesman James Ruprai said the Actventure water park proposal had a lengthy and complex development approval history dating back to 2015.
Mr Ruprai said that in December 2019, the applicant lodged a development application for a new Stage 1 comprising a resort complex (160 villas) and a revision to the tourist attraction (water park). That application was now under assessment by council officers.
The Courier-Mail understands the lengthy process is close to being finalised.
Originally published as $65m water park and eco resort to kickstart tourism