Queensland’s Tourism Growth

27 Aug 2018
Words Tim Crooks

Queensland’s Tourism Growth

It’s widely acknowledged that tourism is a primary engine of economic growth in Queensland. Infrastructure development, it can be said, is the fuel for that engine. A new wave of public and private infrastructure investment is set to propel our visitor economy forward over the coming years.  

Tourism is a $25 billion industry in Queensland, directly and indirectly employing 225,000 people and generating $56.4 million per day in overnight visitor expenditure. (Queensland Government, Advancing Tourism 2016-20)

Recently, Resort Brokers Australia has been liaising with Queensland’s Department of Innovation, Tourism Industry Development and the Commonwealth Games, looking at initiatives targeted to grow tourism, specifically by attracting new and improved tourism infrastructure.

Through our participation in events including the Northern Australia Investment Forum and Tourism Investment Attraction luncheon held during the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, we’re familiar with several targeted programs designed to boost infrastructure delivery.

Some were again highlighted in the state’s recent 2018-19 Budget which committed to a $45.8 billion infrastructure spend over the next four years. Importantly for the regions, 65% will be spent outside Brisbane.

Funding examples include $330m support for the Great Barrier Reef, $36m Regional Tourism Infrastructure and Experience Development Program, a $50m package for island rejuvenation, and $10m for Outback tourism infrastructure.

Of course, transport and roads is a huge priority, and $4.217 billion is dedicated to this, including a long-awaited duplication of the Sunshine Coast rail line, the Toowoomba second range crossing, and vital upgrades to the Pacific and Bruce highways.

Queensland currently has a $2.2 billion-plus pipeline of airport and cruise facility upgrades, with the wider $14 billion infrastructure investment pipeline across key focus areas including mixed-use developments, hotels, leisure and entertainment attractions and island resorts.

With an eye to the future, the state government in collaboration with regional authorities has also identified a ‘wish list’ of projects imperative to drive tourism growth in specific areas.

Examples of investments identified as vital, in addition to access infrastructure, include things like a substantial land-based reef day trip terminal in the 1770 region, a $195 million waterfront promenade project in Townsville CBD to connect dining, entertainment, cultural and retail precincts, and a Global Tourism Hub for Tropical North Queensland for which Expressions of Interest have been invited.

I recently attended a Tourism Investment Briefing by Deloitte Access Economics Partner and National Tourism Lead, Adele Labine-Romain. She outlined robust growth forecasts for Queensland’s tourism economy: growth of 3.4% per annum in domestic trips and 6.9% p.a. in international trips over the short to medium term.

Global economic growth continues to be driven by Asia, and Queensland is perhaps best positioned to exploit that burgeoning market, particularly as the low Aussie dollar is making us an attractive destination in terms of price.

But most critical of all will be the extent to which we continue to provide better access, new and refreshed attractions, and sufficient new and regularly upgraded accommodation to appeal to the full market spectrum, from great value offerings to sophisticated high-end establishments.

To give you a sense of the exciting infrastructure outlook for Queensland, we’ve prepared a map highlighting key projects, both public and private, either just completed or in the pipeline.  There are many more, too numerous to detail here, but this selection is indicative.

It certainly should instil confidence and encourage further infrastructure investment into the future.


  • $3B Queens Wharf Integrated Resort & Casino project
  • $1.3B Brisbane Airport Second Runway
  • $5.4B Cross River Rail
  • $5M allocated to formal business case for Brisbane Live



  • $400M Commonwealth Games legacy infrastructure
  • $2B Star Gold Coast masterplan
  • $3B Light Rail network (ongoing)
  • $1B Jewel Towers, Surfers Paradise



  • $813M Bruce Highway widening
  • $430M new Maroochydore City Centre
  • $347M Sunshine Coast Airport expansion
  • $450M Actventure active lifestyle and tourist theme park



  • $200M Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport
  • $1.6B Toowoomba second range crossing
  • $233M Warrego & Bruce highway upgrades
  • $17.5M Mon Repos Turtle Centre & Conservation Park redevelopment



  • $75m Capricorn Highway duplication
  • $20m new Rockhampton Art Gallery
  • Keppel Cove bought by Yuexing Group for mixed-use tourism development



  • $582M Lindeman GBR Resort redevelopment
  • $252M Shute Harbour Marina integrated development
  • $500M Mackay Ring Road
  • $900M Mackay Airport 20-year expansion plan



  • $250M 25,000-seat North Queensland Stadium
  • $80M Townsville Airport redevelopment
  • $450M The Hive mixed use residential, commercial and tourist facility (planned)
  • $126.5M Bruce Highway upgrades



  • $176M Cairns Convention Centre expansion
  • $550M Nova City apartments / mixed use development
  • $50M Cairns Aquarium and Reef Research Centre
  • $21M Wangetti Trail, Palm Cove to Port Douglas



  • $36 million Regional Tourism Infrastructure & Experience Development Program
  • $23M Waltzing Matilda Centre, Winton
  • $2.2M Australian Workers Heritage Centre upgrade, Barcaldine
  • Qantas Founders Museum new Super Constellation display (ready 2020)


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