Three players in the running for $1bn Cairns global tourism hub

The Star Entertainment Group, Hard Rock International and the Reef Casino Joint Venture have been short-listed by the Queensland Government to take on the $1 billion waterfront project.

“These companies recognise that with the reef, rainforests and World Heritage Areas on its doorstep, Cairns has huge potential as an international hub for tourists,” said Tourism Minister Kate Jones.

“In addition to the tourism benefits, a Global Tourism Hub will transform Cairns, linking the cruise ship terminal, the Cairns Convention Centre, and the CBD.”

However, it is believed that two of the firms have been in discussions to merge their interests in the project into a single bid, which would make it a favourite to win the tender.

A spokesperson for The Star said they did not believe there is room for two casinos in Cairns or Gold Coast. “The markets are simply not big enough,” The Star said.

“The long-term Australian structure of one casino per city is based on economic common sense. It is a delicately balanced market structure.”

The Queensland Government called for expressions of interest in creating a tourism hub similar to the Queens Wharf in Brisbane on the basis that it would only lease the land to successful bid, and not invest in the project directly.

“We know that Cairns is a tourism mecca for Queensland,” said Jones earlier. “We are pushing for more tourism experiences.