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Tuesday, 26 June 2012
Page: 8110

Mrs ANDREWS (McPherson) (16:00): Anyone who has picked up a copy of the Gold Coast Bulletin this week would have seen a number of articles relating to an excellent proposal to create a dive wreck site or artificial reef off the city by way of two decommissioned naval ships. As I am extremely passionate about boosting tourism on the southern Gold Coast, I think that this proposal is a great opportunity to create a unique international tourism destination for the region and demonstrate, once and for all, that the Gold Coast is more than the northern glitter strip, with its glitterati, its larger-than-life theme parks and its seemingly endless nightclubs. It is truly time to stop obsessing over high-rises and bronzed bikini babes and take a whole-of-Gold-Coast approach to tourism and to promoting our city.

Businesses on the southern Gold Coast are fed up with Surfers Paradise being treated like the jewel in the crown. The owner of Coolangatta based Snorkel Safari Gold Coast, Mr Tony Hunt, has said that he feels like the southern Gold Coast is at times treated like a separate state to Queensland. Mr Hunt, who also runs a whale-watching operation, has been advocating for a dive site near Kirra for the past five years, so this is not a new concept to the city.

The southern Gold Coast has the right ingredients for a successful diving operation. We have Coolangatta airport, where visitors can arrive safely with their diving gear, and we have surrounding headlands that offer great vantage points for watching divers. We also have the right ocean currents, temperature and conditions for diving. We have experienced dive operators that can take the stress out of diving. What is needed for us is the 'wow' factor, and that 'wow' factor comes from a wreck's hull looming in the distance. All of that is within our reach now and we really must be focused on doing whatever we can to make this a reality, so I call on all levels of government—federal government, state government and local government—as well as our local tourism bodies and our local tour operators to work together to make this happen in the best interests of the Gold Coast.

There is no denying that the Gold Coast is a popular tourist destination. A recent report by Tourism Research Australia labelled the Gold Coast one of the largest tourism regions in Australia by tourism expenditure. In the year to March 2012, TRA calculated that the Gold Coast attracted 3.3 million domestic overnight visitors, who spent a total of $2.5 billion.

I am certainly committed to revitalising the southern end of the Gold Coast. We have all the ingredients there; we have a strong base. It is not and should not be the forgotten part of the Gold Coast. We need to all work together and bring all of the tourism operators and all of the stakeholders together so that we can have a whole-of-Gold-Coast approach to tourism. That is what is missing. The dive wreck is certainly a key to securing the tourism future of the southern Gold Coast.