TOURISM BOOST: Million dollar project approved for region
ONE of the largest tourism projects in southwest Queensland has been allocated millions of dollars in an ambitious effort to draw travellers to Roma and the Outback.
The Bigger Big Rig project, estimated to cost $6.275 million will go ahead, with Maranoa Regional Council voting 7 votes to 2 at this week's meeting.
Charlie Eames, president of Visit Roma congratulated Council on their decision and was relieved that finally a decision has been made and construction to The Bigger Big Rig can now begin.
The resolution was moved by councillors Cameron O'Neil and Joh Hancock.
Mayor Tyson Golder and Cr Mark Edwards voted against the motion.
Mr Eames also congratulated the previous Council who "got the ball rolling".
"This has been a very long journey, which Maranoa Regional Council started in 2013, and continued in partnership with the community stakeholder led Big Rig Action group from 2017," he said.
"After receiving two significant grants from the State Government through the Outback Tourism Infrastructure Fund and the Building Our Regions Fund with still no decision was made we were getting very nervous."
It is understood $163m and $1.23m were provided from these two grants, Visit Roma handed over $10,000 and Council will make up the other 50 per cent that will come from internal and external borrowings.
Cr Golder said he personally voted against the project because he was concerned the current Big Rig will be overshadowed by the Bigger Big Rig.
"Firstly, I'd like to say council made the decision 7-2 to go ahead with the project," he said.
"And the feedback I received from the general community is that it doesn't have the support and a lot of people don't know what's happening with it.
"I would have preferred to use the money to make changes to the Peter Keegan museum so we could tell our stories and history and I think that's what the community had support for.
"I'm grateful to the State Government for their funds and really respect that they have put money into the project.
"But I have to listen to the community, that I represent and feedback I received is that our roads and park lands for example should be better looked after, which can equally entice tourism."
Mr Eames noted how other towns have invested in tourism projects over the years.
"We have had to watch other Outback Queensland towns invest heavily in tourism product for the past decade including Charleville, Winton, Longreach, Mt Isa even Thargomindah and Quilpie have been developing new tourism experiences," he said.
"This has resulted in significant increased visitation for these towns.
"Finally the Maranoa is going to join the ranks of iconic Outback tourism experiences with the construction of The Bigger Big Rig tower and observation deck and tree walk and it will set our regions tourism industry on a new path that will see increased visitation and a significant injection of new money and extra jobs into our economy".