Aquis Great Barrier Reef Resort - Cairns Casino Development Plan Aquis Resort applied for an $8.1 billion development plan in 2013, but six years later still struggles to reach its goal.

Queensland leaders declared a development scheme in early April to draw more investors to the Great Barrier Reef Project and the Aquis Resort & Casino. To accomplish that goal, Queensland approved the Tropical North State Development Area (SDA). The SDA is the result of 17 months of study and planning, which stemmed from the Tropical North Global Tourism Hub (GTH).

If successful, devevelopment of the long-discussed $8.15 billion Aquis Resort could receive a jolt. The Aquis Great Barrier Reef Resort project could draw millions of visitors from Asia to Northern Queensland, but the project needs investors.

The Tropical North State Development Area includes 14 hectares of land in the Cairns Central Business District (CBD)’s Cityport precinct. Developers and state officials want to create significant port and airstrip access in the Cairns area. Leaders want the SDA to be a “gateway to North Queensland” for cruise ships.

Specifically, they want the Tropical North Global Tourism Hub to have a port to handle cruise liners passing through the area. Queensland’s leaders plan to unlock an underutilised area of Cairns.

Likewise, the SDA includes development in-and-around existing places: Cairns Convention Centre, the Pullman Hotel and Resort, and the The Reef Hotel Casino.

Queensland Development Schemes

“Development schemes” is a planning instrument with factors unique to each area. The Coordinator-General uses such schemes to access and decide applications. Thus, citizens who want to develop the Cairns area should submit a plan to Queenland’s Coordinator-General.

Currently, Queensland supports 10 other schemes for lands around the state. Queensland promotes active schemes in towns like Abbot Point, Gladstone, and Bromelton. Officials also operate plans for areas like the Galilee Basin, the Callide Infrastructure Corrider, and the Surat Basin Infrastructure Corridor.

The Queensland Children’s Hospital received it owns scheme. Similarly, the Stanwell to Gladstone Infrastructure Corridor obtained a scheme. Each has different types of requests and applications, so residents should read the pdf for each scheme.

Global Tourism Hub

The Queensland Government announced the Global Tourism Hub (GTH) on October 28, 2017, but leaders did not take steps right away. Instead, the government funded a study of the needs for such a tourism hub. Officials released the report in November 2018, which called for a state development scheme.

The Tropican North GTH will support Queensland’s tourism industry. It will provide new jobs, while connecting Queensland with new and emerging tourism markets. The GTH should provide entertainment and lifestyle options for locals, but also give visitors new tourist attractions.

Aquis Great Barrier Reef Resort

Chinese-Australian billionaire Tony Fong applied to build the Aquis Great Barrier Reef Resort in July 2013. He proposed a $8.15 billion integrated casino resort. Fong said he would built Aquis in two stages: Stage 1 for $5.05 billion and Stage 2 for $3.1 billion.

The mega-resort’s Stage 1 plan contained a casino, 5 hotels with over 4,000 hotel rooms, and an artificial lake and island. The complex would have retail shopping, an exhibition center, a theater, a reef lagoon, and an outdoor sport and recreation facility. The plans contained an 18-hold golf course, a giant aquarium, and a cultural heritage center.

Stage 2 contained plans for 3 added hotels with 3500 more hotel rooms. The Stage 2 designs also had a second casinos, a second theater, more retail shopping, and a “rainforest”. The number of jobs Aquis Resort would create was astounding. Stage 1 includes 3750 temporary construction jobs and 11,000 permanent jobs. Stage 2 includes another 3500 construction jobs, plus an added 9000 permanent jobs.

Tropical North State Development Area

The plan was ambitious by anyone’s standards. Critics wondered why anyone would spend so much money to draw people to a remote part of Queensland. Many critics complained about Aquis Resort’s proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, which many hope to preserve.

By the middle of 2016, Tony Fong scaled down his ambitions. He canceled plans for the casino in order to expedite the construction process. Most expect the casino to return in a later stage. An integrated resort worth $8 billion doesn’t make much sense if it doesn’t create casino revenues.

The Tropical North State Development Area (SDA) throws money at the problem in the hopes it draws investors. In the long run, the casino is the key factor in the Aquis Resort. People who come for the Great Barrier Reef will come anyway. Retail shopping, nightclubs, and restaurants are not enough to draw people to northeast Australia. A gambling venue is a must, to act as a centerpiece for all the other crowd pleasers.