A $56 million Market Led Proposal (MLP) for a Strand ferry terminal and tourism precinct within the Townsville Waterfront Priority Development Area has been announced by Queensland Treasurer, Curtis Pitt.

The proposal is led by national tourism operator SeaLink, working in partnership with Queensland developer Honeycombes Property Group, and will create a major tourism precinct with a distinctive and iconic book-end to Townsville’s world-class Strand.

The proposal includes construction of a state-of-the-art ferry terminal, new ferries, interstate coach transport interchange area, visitor centre, short-stay accommodation, commercial offices, cafés, retail outlets and travel/tour booking stations that would encourage the co-location and expansion of a number of existing and new tourism operators.

Port of Townsville Chief Executive Officer, Ranee Crosby, said that the redevelopment of the ferry terminal would be a catalyst tourism project for the Townsville Waterfront Priority Development Area.

“A new ferry terminal and tourism precinct within the Townsville waterfront would transform tourism operations in the heart of Townsville with a vibrant mixed-use area,” Ms Crosby said.

“To grow tourism, investment into new and modern infrastructure and unique experiences is needed.

“This precinct will give Townsville a destination that tourists want to visit and facilities that locals will be proud of.”

SeaLink Regional General Manager North Queensland and Northern Territory, Paul Victory, said that SeaLink was committed to seeing the project delivered.

“The current facilities in Townsville are tired and in desperate need of renewal to facilitate transport for local residents and growth in tourism. Sealink has great confidence in the potential for tourism growth in the North Queensland region.

“This project is timed well; coinciding with the recent recognition of Magnetic Island as an iconic tourist destination – taking out fifth spot in TripAdvisor’s 2017 Traveller’s Choice Awards Top 10 Destinations in Australia.

“The MLP process has been a great vehicle for us to put forward a proposal for desperately needed infrastructure to grow tourism and meet the needs of residents and visitors to Townsville, Magnetic Island and Palm Island,” Mr Victory said.

The current Breakwater Ferry Terminal operated by SeaLink is a major tourism operation for the city, with over a million passengers and more than 14,000 vessel movements annually.

SeaLink also plays a significant role in servicing the city’s growing cruise shipping market.

The new precinct will incorporate many conveniences that are expected for today’s traveller, including things to do during both the day and night hours, attractive public spaces, integration with the CBD and improved transport connections.

SeaLink’s proposal leverages its current strengths, capabilities and contractual arrangements to offer a solution that activates the Priority Waterfront Development Area, improves passenger transport services for the community, and generates a tremendous tourism opportunity for the region.

The terminal will be equipped to accommodate multiple marine tourism operators and allow for future market growth.

As part of the proposal, SeaLink is investigating a city-cat service master plan to operate smaller ferry services to various locations along the creek-front, including the Stadium, Flinders Street, Central Park and the Quayside Cruise Terminal.

If approved, construction will commence in mid-2018 and be completed by mid-2020, supporting around 100 jobs during construction.

Through stage two of the Market Led Proposal process, SeaLink and Honeycombes will work with the government and community stakeholders to finalise detailed planning and the business case to prove that the concept meets the MLP criteria.

SeaLink expects to submit detailed plans and the business case in late 2017.

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