Three international firms have been shortlisted to develop a $1 billion tourism hub and casino in the heart of Cairns.
Big-name developers Star Entertainment Group and Hard Rock International join Reef Casino Joint Venture as contenders to develop the 4.4 ha site linking the Cruise Ship Terminal with Cairns Convention Centre and the CBD.
The development will include a stand-alone casino, luxury hotels, high-end retail, a restaurant, and entertainment.
In October 2017, the Queensland government announced a gaming license would also be offered to encourage the development of tourism infrastructure following the withdrawal of the Aquis Yorkey’s Knob proposal.Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said the announcement of the three “highly-respected players” was a vote of confidence in the region.
“The three firms named today are companies with strong international and domestic reputations for delivering high-quality mixed-use, hotel and entertainment and gaming projects,” she said.
“These companies recognise that with the reef, rainforests and world heritage areas on its doorstep, Cairns has huge potential as an international hub for tourists.
“Our vision is simple – to create a world-class tourism hub in Tropical North Queensland that attracts more international and domestic tourists, who stay longer and spend more in the region.
“That means more jobs for Queenslanders, especially in Cairns.
“In addition to the tourism benefits, a global tourism hub will transform Cairns – linking the Cruise Ship Terminal, the Cairns Convention Centre and the CBD.”
The next step involves an interactive tender process with the three shortlisted companies.
The project involves state government, Cairns Regional Council and stakeholders including Ports North and Tourism Tropical North Queensland.
Member for Cairns Michael Healy said the hub would be a game-changer for Tropical North Queensland.
“This is all about partnering with the private sector to create sustainable jobs in Cairns. We know a global tourism hub would create jobs for locals,” he said.
“Today’s announcement means we’re one step closer to having a world-class entertainment hub in the middle of Cairns.”
The shortlisted companies will lodge proposals with state government by July, with the announcement of the winning developer expected by early 2020.