EIS baseline studies have been completed and mitigation strategies are being developed in collaboration with government and community stakeholders. The results of these studies will be presented fully in the EIS and preliminary information has been summarised in Fact Sheets which are being released progressively in local newspapers to enable easy access.
This Fact Sheet provides some background on socio-economic trends in the region and how the development will change these for the better.
What’s there now?
One of Far North Queensland’s key tourism experiences used to be based around a day trip to Kuranda by train, followed by a bus tour around the Atherton Tablelands. By the 1990s, the development of the Kuranda Markets and addition of Skyrail made Kuranda an important tourist destination in its own right, attracting about a million day-visitors a year. However, this fundamentally changed the Tablelands’ tourism sector and led to the relocation of some key Kuranda tourism businesses ‘down the hill’. Seeking to address this, as far back as 2003 TTNQ (Tourism Tropical North Queensland) produced the ‘Tablelands Tourism Investment Report and Recommendations’, highlighting the need for accommodation in the region. KUR-World has been designed to meet the demand for high quality visitor accommodation identified by TTNQ, thereby providing a long overdue catalyst to restore the Atherton Tablelands as a core component in the Far North Queensland’s visitor experience.
The way in which the tourism sector has developed in the region has left Kuranda with a higher proportion of part -time work and unemployed people than the regional average and Indigenous people with a 38.2% unemployment rate. Moreover, most Kuranda working residents work somewhere else, mostly in Cairns City and the northern beaches, while about 25% of the jobs in Kuranda are filled by Cairns’ residents. Kuranda and the Atherton Tablelands are therefore at a significant comparative socio-economic disadvantage, as illustrated by the statistics set out below:
Kuranda and the Atherton Tablelands have a generally high older population (44+ years) and a generally low younger population (15-29 years). The situation for the Tablelands is similar. However, the Indigenous population for the region has a very different profile. The proportion of Indigenous people under 29 years is more than twice that of non-Indigenous population; further, the population over 44 years is less than half that of the non-Indigenous population.
What are we doing about the impacts?
The predicted increases in the workforce and visitors to the region could impact on the existing infrastructure and services. We are collaborating closely with government and business service providers to ensure that any increased demand is balanced with the supply of these services. Employment for local people will be a key priority for KUR-World and we will preferentially employ residents and utilise local businesses by ensuring appropriate conditions are included in all contracts for construction and operation. Apprenticeships and training opportunities for young Indigenous and non-indigenous local residents will be developed with service providers to build capacity in areas where opportunities are created by KUR-World, ensuring further benefits for the region.
What are the opportunities?
Once developed, KUR-World is estimated to create 1333 full and part-time permanent jobs (including flow-on opportunities) in maintenance, management, marketing, administration, IT, education, guides, animal minders, hospitality and health; adding $628 million to the regional economy (including flow-on effects). During the construction phase, KUR-World is expected to employ 1935 people across a variety of occupations, including residential and non-residential builders, heavy and civil engineers and other trade and technical services. Additional jobs in the area could enable the existing population to work locally rather than commute to Cairns city or other places. The development and operation of KUR-World is also expected to positively influence the pattern of local employment, reorienting this towards Kuranda and the Tablelands, rather than Cairns. When fully operational, KUR-World is expected to add 2.0% per annum to Gross Regional Product in the Cairns region and about 4.0% per annum to the Tablelands’ Gross Regional Product (with flow-on effects).
Download here KW-SocioEconomic-Fact-Sheet.pdf