The Queensland government’s tour of the far north to kick-off construction projects has fallen short of its $1 billion “global tourism hub” expectations.
But the state government is still pushing ahead with the $176 million redevelopment of the Cairns Convention Centre to help support the tropical city, which has been devastated by the drop in tourism due to Covid-19.
The pandemic has caused the government to end its expressions of interest development campaign as the proposals “didn’t cut the mustard”, according to tourism minister Kate Jones.
“A global tourism hub requires not only international tourists but a multi-billion-dollar investment from a global investor. At this time, this is not realistic,” Jones said.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—we won’t commit prime waterfront real estate in Cairns if we can’t be certain that what will be delivered will bring thousands of extra tourists and give the tourism industry a leg up.
“The proposals we received just didn’t cut the mustard and didn’t represent value for the people of Cairns.”
The new convention centre was part of the state government’s global tourism hub plans, along with a multi-million dollar port upgrade.
Lendlease was appointed the major contract on the convention centre project, adding to the company’s construction footprint in the area, including the $60 million Cairns Central shopping centre redevelopment already in progress.
The Cairns Convention Centre was closed in April in preparation for the 10,500sq m expansion project and is expected to take two years to complete.
Key features of the redevelopment include a large, undercover, tropically planted drop-off and entry forecourt, an expanded main entry lobby, a 410-seat lecture space, three 120-seat meeting rooms and new exhibition space for up to 30 display booths.
Cairns Central shopping centre project is a private investment by Lendlease, which is also the owner of the centre as well as the managing contractor of the project.
The shopping centre is the largest retail complex in the city and upgrades include a 7,500sq m Myer refurbishment, a Woolworths-anchored food hall, parking improvements, children’s play area as well as additional amenities and upgrades to existing spaces.
Significant headway has been made on the project during the past year, with two stages of the Myer fitout already complete and works under way on the Spence Street express parking ramp.