Hong Kong based billionaire Tony Fung was preparing to invest billions into the Aquis Great Barrier Reef integrated casino resort in Yorkeys Knob but suddenly decided to abandon plans of building a casino. Instead, Fung moved to proceed with just a luxury resort. Queensland had a lot of expectations from the proposed multi-billion dollar project and was disappointed that the original plan to develop a casino was shelved.

However Curtis Pitt, the Queensland Treasurer and Member for Mulgrave, remained positive as he believed that the forfeited casino license would be acquired by other interested parties who were willing to invest into Queensland’s economy. Pitt is pushing for the regional casino license to be given to Cairns as he looks to attract major investors into purchasing the license and developing another integrated casino resort in Cairns.

He recently met with city leaders and made a glowing presentation about Cairns and its tourism industry. Pitt stated that Cairns was located very close to the international airport and also met the criteria stipulated by the Minister for State Development for acquiring the regional casino license.

Pitt highlighted the fact that last year a suite of hotels in Cairns was purchased by investors as they recognized the tourism boom in Cairns and wanted a piece of the action. There are reports from the Cairns Post that the state government could ask developers to send in their expressions of interest for the casino license. There is a strong possibility that the developers who are currently carrying out a makeover of the Great Keppel Island might be interested in acquiring the license. As of now, Toowoomba and Townsville are two main locations that are being discussed.

In a statement, Alex de Waal, chief executive for Tourism Tropical North Queensland, said “We have investors from all parts of the world flocking to the region to capitalise on the intrinsic and highly compelling attractiveness of the ­Tropical North Queensland destination. Our destination is one of Australia’s most significant and fastest growing and we need to ensure that we continue to innovate and develop new room stock to keep pace with the global tourism growth opportunities that the next decade will provide.”

Asian tourists continue to flock to Australia, with a large number of them being tourists from Mainland China who love to spend time at the casinos. Both Pitt and de Waal believe that the tourism boom in Cairns will create a huge market for accommodation and gambling. De Waal wants five and six star properties to be developed in the region and focus on attracting tourists from the Asian market.