Cassowary Coast Regional Council contracted MacroPlan to undertake an audit of the state of play of tourism at the international, national and regional level to contextualise the opportunities and challenges for the Council to re-purpose the 18.2 hectare Kareeya Hydro Power Station former worker’s village at Cardstone deep in the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Tropical Rainforest adjacent to the beautiful Tully River and gorge. The site will be used to host the 2019 World Rafting Championships. The brief required MacroPlan to investigate potential investors in the site.
- Adventure and ecotourism forms a significant component of Australia’s visitor economy ranking among top travel motivators to come here. 69% (5.4 million) of international visitors in the year ending June 2017 engaged in some form of adventure or ecotourism activity.
- The rise in adventure and ecotourism internationally is highly relevant for Cassowary Coast due to the popularity within these tourism categories for World Heritage Listed Rainforests and the Great Barrier Reef as well as activities like white water rafting, mountain biking and hiking and generally experiencing nature.
- International visitation has grown strongly for Cairns, especially with Chinese visitors but this has yet to translate into benefits for the Cassowary Coast.
- A Productivity Commission report (2015) into tourism identified poor quality and dated infrastructure in National Parks as a major impediment to growth in ecotourism in Australia. This means that any infrastructure implemented in the Tully Gorge needs to be of high quality to attract the additional tourists being sought including provision of Wi-Fi access.
- Cassowary Coast requires more 4 and 5-star offerings and needs to leverage its considerable natural assets through targeted tourism infrastructure investments and tourism adventure and ecotourism offerings.
- Develop experiences for high value tourists, particularly Chinese to capture offerings like direct helicopter flights to Cardstone Ecovillage from Cairns Airport packaged with 5 Star food & accommodation offerings.
Outcomes to date:
Strong early commercial interest in developing the Cardstone Site in line with proposals outlined above, especially in light of the forthcoming world-wide exposure due to the World Rafting Championships being hosted there next year.