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“Perseverance is not a long race, it is many short races one after the other.” That quote has never been more relevant than for Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox after $15 million Queensland Government funding support was announced today.
Mayor Willcox and CEO Barry Omundson have been regular commuters to Brisbane and Canberra to knock on the doors of power as strong Council advocates for funding the Whitsunday Region.
Queensland treasurer Curtis Pitt joined Mayor Willcox at Whitsunday Coast airport today to announce provisional funding of $15 million had been allocated for the terminal upgrade project and council will seek a low interest loan of $25 million from the QTC for the runway upgrade as part of the $40 million project.
Mr Pitt said Council’s business case for the $40 million plan was compelling and he was happy to be able to sign off on the Council’s request for financial assistance.
Mayor Willcox was elated with the funding allocation and said the close working relationship council had formed with the State Government was important.
“As Mayor I vowed to build better relationships with all levels of government and we have been proactive from day one in re-establishing this critical relationship across all levels of government” he said.
“The Whitsunday Coast Airport is the single most important piece of economic infrastructure in our region but borrowing the $40 million for the Airport expansion project simply isn’t feasible for a Council given the other critical infrastructure projects that are required to be addressed in this term.
These include the Greening and Growing Bowen projects that will replace and enhance Bowen’s very much undersized wastewater capacity and improve water quality entering the wonderful Great Barrier Reef.
“But doing nothing isn’t an option either, which is why collaboration with the state government and QTC financing is the perfect solution.
“I am determined to drive economic growth in our region by growing tourist visitation numbers, which means we have to grow our flagship airport to a world class standard,” he said.
Tourism Whitsunday CEO Craig Turner said the airport upgrade was crucial for the region.
“The biggest barrier to the Whitsunday Region has always been accessibility and cost, so the announcement of airport upgrades by Whitsunday Regional Council, coupled with additional flights announced earlier this year, will go a long way to realising visitation potential.
“We have ticked the box in regard to increasing low cost connectivity and the next piece of the puzzle is to ensure that travelers get that visitor experience when they arrive into the region. What another great initiative by this proactive Council”
Proserpine Chamber of Commerce secretary Karen Vloedmans said the planned airport infrastructure runway works and terminal upgrades are vital to meet the needs of our region’s reputation as a growing and preferred destination.
“An airport facility that offers a true sense of arrival to our visiting guests is crucial, providing a first, and lasting, memorable impression and is vital to the regions greater connectivity and overall sustainability,” she said.