Eco-resort attracts Chinese rich-listers
HONG Kong's richest woman heads a string of Chinese rich-listers eyeing a stake in the $650 million Kur-World project.
Pollyanna Chu, worth an estimated $6.3 billion, has twice flown with fellow investors by private jet to Cairns, taken a helicopter over the Great Barrier Reef, and visited the site at a working cattle property near Kuranda.
Kur-World Integrated Eco-Resort, listed as a "project of state significance" with the Co-ordinator General's office, is two years into an environmental approval process to build 21 private homes, a 200-bed hotel apartment and world-class equestrian centre.
Development manager Mark Lawson, who heads the project on behalf of Macau-based tycoon Ken Lee, said private finance through overseas investors was the only way to fund new tourism projects in Australia.
"No bank in Australia will finance an unproven tourism venture,'' he said.
About 200 mostly Asian investors have toured the property, with some Kuranda locals concerned about the impact on traffic congestion and the rainforest habitat of wildlife, including the tiny Kuranda tree frog.
Kur-Cow Barnwell Ranch, separate to the much bigger Kur-World project, has just won council approval to operate as a tourism adventure.
"We take our guests horse riding, on quad bikes and a hay wagon ride,'' Mr Lawson said. "They get to have an Aussie barbecue and taste our own home-grown beef .''
Kur-Cow hopes to attract locals and overseas tour groups alike, initially catering for up to 150 a day, and is in talks with international airlines flying direct to Cairns, such as Hainan Air, China Southern, Hong Kong Airlines and Cathay Pacific.
They will join a delegation with Tourism Tropical North Queensland and Tourism Events Queensland officials to Japan on Wednesday.
It comes as latest annual figures to March show China is still the biggest market, with 204,000 visitors.