Money chase in pursuit of expanding tourism

INVESTORS are being sought for major Australian tourism projects, including a five-star hotel at Moonlight Head on the Great Ocean Road, a hotel and restaurant at Puffing Billy in Emerald, and the $215 million redevelopment of the Hotel Windsor due to start later this year.

The projects are among 75 "ready-to-go" investment opportunities identified by Tourism Australia, Austrade and the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism.

"The Australian tourism industry is open and ready for investment," Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson said yesterday when he announced the push to attract foreign and domestic investors.

Mr Ferguson said investment in the Australian tourism industry was necessary to make the most of the emerging travel market out of China.

"It is critical to develop new and better products to take advantage of the Asian century," he said. "In less than a decade it's estimated that there will be 100 million outbound tourism trips taken by Chinese people each year and we currently get about half a million of those trips … It's getting more aggressive; we either invest in tourism or we lose those opportunities."

The investment push includes the release of "The Tourism Investment Guide", which lists projects around Australia, and "The Tourism Investment Monitor", which provides data to potential investors.

A backer of the Moonlight Head project, Stephen Foley, said yesterday that everything was ready to go with the development of a $23 million hotel at the property.

"There is no five-star accommodation along the Great Ocean Road and that's why I think it's a great opportunity. A lot of Chinese visitors are going to the Twelve Apostles but they turn around and come back on the same day because there is nowhere to stay.

"It's a no-brainer to build this, but we need the finance."