Musgrave tours real possibility

TOURISM operators have been invited to submit expressions of interest for a high-speed, upmarket day trip service to Lady Musgrave Island.

Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism (BNBT) chairman Greg Barnes said the organisation would control the permit and would ensure the operation was run out of Bundaberg.

The service to Lady Musgrave could also be instrumental in helping attract a second airline to operate flights to and from Bundaberg Airport, he said.

Mr Barnes said he had been trying to get a permit to operate a service to the island from Bundaberg since 2004, when the previous operation was relocated out of town.

In April, BNBT was given a permit by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority for tourism access to the lagoon at the island, and by the Department of Environment and Resource Management to let visitors on to the island.

Cr Barnes said BNBT had already had seven inquiries about operating the service to the island.

“It's the international market we're really targeting. Earlier this year we had 10 wholesalers here who were very keen on getting tourists here if we could get the service up and running,” he said.

Mr Barnes said the possibility of the day trip service to Lady Musgrave had already attracted interest from tourism operators in places such as China and Taiwan.

“If they can start bringing groups of 50 or so people out here it will be an incentive for another airline to fly into the Bundaberg Airport,” he said.

Mr Barnes said while BNBT would own the permit it would take no commercial part in the operation.

“It gives us control over who we allow to use the permit,” he said.

Mr Barnes said visiting the Great Barrier Reef was the quintessential experience for people visiting Queensland.

“Because we are so close to Brisbane and the drive market we believe this will be a real goer,” he said.

Mr Barnes said he hoped to have the expressions of interest in the next two months.

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