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Tourism millions in Musgrave deal

LADY MUSGRAVE: Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett is thrilled tenders are now open for Lady Musgrave tours.
LADY MUSGRAVE: Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett is thrilled tenders are now open for Lady Musgrave tours.

BUNDABERG is on the brink of a multi-million dollar tourism boost with a new plan allowing for extra tour operators to visit Lady Musgrave Island.

Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett said a new management plan had been negotiated that would allow for more operators to visit the island without increasing the total number of day visitors, ensuring the environment was still protected.

While one business already runs tours to the island from Agnes Water, Mr Bennett said the new operators would utilise the Bundaberg Port.

"For me this is about a bigger plan for the port and for the region," he said.

Mr Bennett, who has been fighting for the tourism opportunity for some time, said discussions were already underway with two parties interested in operating from Bundaberg, but he called for others to throw their hat in the ring.

The MP said while timelines would be "subject to the tender process", he hoped to see tours get underway as soon as possible.

"My desire is to see an operator look at broadening the experience - we do have whales off our coast and diving opportunities so it could be wonderful," he said.

The extra boost for the port comes just one day after the Premier announced an $11m gas pipeline to Burnett Heads which is expected kick start significant economic activity at the Port of Bundaberg.

Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism general manager Rick Matkowski said the Bundaberg to Lady Musgrave trips had been at the top of the tourism wishlist, along with developing Mon Repos, for some time.

"It would bring another 100,000 people to the region within 12 to 18 months," Mr Matkowski said.

"We currently have about 600,000 people come to Bundaberg.

"That's $1.4 million a day (currently) and I would estimate that would possibly go to $1.5 to $1.6m a day (with the new operations)."

Minister for National Parks Steve Dickson said the area required careful management to ensure its sensitive and finely-balanced ecosystems were taken care of.

"The management aims outlined in the plan include the protection of features of global conservation importance, and the management of sites of indigenous and shared-history cultural significance, and will provide opportunities for scientific research and teaching," Mr Dickson said.



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