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Plan to make Rocky dream destination

A TEN-year tourism development plan for Central Queensland aims to transform Rockhampton from an overnight stop into a destination in its own right.

The plan - a wish-list from tourism organisations - was revealed by Queensland Tourism Minister Peter Lawlor in Rockhampton yesterday.

Mr Lawlor said although tourism was an important part of the local economy, supporting 8000 jobs and contributing about $500 million to the economy, there was potential to attract a lot more visitors.

The Central Queensland Tourism Opportunity Plan was compiled by the industry and is intended to guide development over the coming decade.

And although it has the backing of the Queensland Government in principal, Mr Lawlor made it clear it was up to private investors to make it happen.

Among the priority projects identified for the region is the development of sports tourism in Rockhampton, built around a new 25,000 seater multi-sport complex and the awarding of a NRL franchise for the city.

Mr Lawlor added his support for the NRL bid and said it would be a fantastic coup for CQ if it could host a team with a national profile.

But developing a sports tourism hub would involve a lot more than just rugby league. The report forsees the expansion of the Cooee Bay sports complex at Yeppoon to include an international swimming complex; the creation of a motorsport precinct close to Rockhampton and a four-wheel drive and motorcycle track.

There would also need to be more high quality accommodation and better public transport, the report says.

Another of the 16 catalyst projects identified by the plan is the revitalisation of Great Keppel Island.

Mr Lawlor said it did not mean Tower Holdings' latest proposals would get the green light, but he had noted there was a lot more support for the resubmitted development than the original plan.

“The first proposal was widely seen as going too far, but the scaled-down version is much more acceptable from an environmental standpoint and it is clear the island offers a great opportunity to boost tourism to the region,” he said.

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