The Palaszczuk Government will provide an extra $1 million in funding to complete stage three of the Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA) at Magnetic Island in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said today’s announcement made the Palaszczuk Government the major funding contributor to the Museum of Underwater Art project.
Mr Stewart said the project was part of the Government’s Unite and Recover Jobs Plan to help kick-start regional economies tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Tourism is vital to the North Queensland economy – when this sector is performing, everyone benefits,” he said.
“We’re investing in new tourism infrastructure because we know projects like this, which will be a southern hemisphere first, will create jobs.
“This attraction is expected to bring in an additional 50,000 visitors a year to Townsville and pump more than $22.5 million annually.
“This fresh funding from the Growing Tourism Infrastructure fund lifts the government’s contribution to $4 million after $1 million was provided earlier this year and $2 million was committed for stage one at the 2017 State Election.”
Tourism Minister Kate Jones said the three stages of MOUA works would provide 72 construction jobs and 182 operational jobs.
“The Museum of Underwater art gives us a huge point of difference here in Townsville and reminds everyone that this region is one of the best places in the state to visit while you’re holidaying on the Great Barrier Reef,” she said.
Ms Jones said the Ocean Siren at the Strand was already attracting nightly interest and the Coral Greenhouse at John Brewer Reef was officially opened to visitors in April 2020.
“With COVID-19 border restrictions carefully being lifted, locals and interstate visitors are exploring Queensland to experience the natural beauty and unique culture of our state,” Ms Jones said.
“This project ticks all the boxes and will generate a great flow-on effect for tourism businesses in North Queensland in months and years to come.”
Ms Jones said Magnetic Island, given its easy accessibility by ferry from Townsville, was one of the most visited islands in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, currently attracting about 250,000 visitors a year.
Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said an international case study of an equivalent project launched in Cancun, Mexico in November 2009 had increased the region’s tourism visitation by almost 50 per cent.
“The art installation at Magnetic Island will be freely accessible and will offer an inter-tidal experience that can be viewed from the shore and via snorkel sites,” he said.
Work on Stage 3 will commence in August 2020, with permits required through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and is anticipated to be completed by December 2021.
MOUA Chair Paul Victory said construction was going well.
“We have achieved great progress with the Museum of Underwater Art in Townsville with successful installations on the Strand and at John Brewer Reef,” he said.
“This funding provides the security for MOUA to complete the full installation by the end of 2021.
“This is a huge bonus for the North Queensland region, meaning locals and visitors will have the opportunity to see installations at four amazing locations, on the Strand, at John Brewer Reef, at Palm Island and Magnetic Island.
“It’s a real lift for tourism growth and is real tourism product investment in Magnetic Island.
“The Magnetic Island installation will continue the story of reef education and provide an amazing Reef Science walk along the foreshore and into the intertidal areas.
“Magnetic Island has been such an important location for the collection of data about the Great Barrier Reef over many years. The Reef Science walk will assist in telling this story.
“MOUA is planned to attract an additional 30,000-50,000 visitors annually to the region and the Reef Science walk will be a key experience to enjoy, on Magnetic Island.”
MOUA recently awarded five North Queensland Commercial Tourism Operators licences to operate as part of the MOUA brand at the John Brewer Reef ‘Coral Greenhouse’ site.