Great Keppel Island Business Growth Optimistic

Great Keppel Island is arguably the most magnificent island in the Southern Great Barrier Reef, with its seventeen ‘Whitehaven’ beaches, un-spoilt reef within reach, abundant marine life, fishing, boating, island walking tracks and a range of affordable accommodation. Of course, we are spoilt for choice with as many islands in Keppel Bay including Pumpkin, Humpy, Middle, North Keppel, Hummocky, Barren and Peak, to name just a few.

In three years since the local purchase and re-naming of Great Keppel Island Hideaway in July 2013, five new additional businesses have commenced – Keppel Water Sports, GKI Adventures, GKI Fishing Charters, Great Keppel Cruises, and a second ferry company, Keppel Konnections. The owners of GKI Hideaway have created new jobs and substantially increased their guest visitation annually, but have had to pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into capital improvements.

GKI Hideaway has achieved this, despite the fact that the land on which it sits has lost some forty (40) metres of dunal foreshore in a decade between May 2006 and August 2016, complements of natural weather events including Cyclones Oswald (Jan 2013), Dylan (Jan 2014) and Marcia (Feb 2016), the latter causing at least ten metres dunal loss in one event.

Just as Capricorn Enterprise assisted Tower Holdings (GKI Resort P/L) obtain 99 year leases to replace their unpalatable 15 year development leases, we strongly supported the policy change by the former state government to introduce ‘rolling’ island leases to provide long term assurity to accommodation providers on Great Barrier Reef Islands.

To their credit, the current state government honoured that policy, and GKI Hideaway was offered a 50 year lease, a year ago, with a caveat to construct a retaining wall on Putney Beach within five years (regardless of how that wall is funded).

Owners of Island Lease hold land pay substantial amounts of money annually to both their Landlord (State government) and local government authority (LGA) in rates, with the annual state lease fee of $250,000 by Tower Holdings (GKI Resort P/L) made public in the media some months ago by our State Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga MP, who raised concerns about a willingness to pay overdue fees, which were subsequently paid.

Prior to the recent Federal election, $220,000 was committed by the Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry MP with the support of Senator Matt Canavan to help construct the million dollar retaining wall at Putney beach to protect Great Keppel Island Hideaway from further erosion and to avoid salt water intrusion into the fresh water aquifer behind the property.

Post TC Marcia, Livingstone Shire Council provided a Grader to Great Keppel Island Hideaway to assist with urgent remedial dunal protection as well as in-kind support to the tune of $50,000 in engineering design and necessary state government permits for the construction of the retaining wall. Post TC Marcia, Capricorn Enterprise contributed $5,000 cash to an island clean-up, in addition to other cash and in-kind contributions from Tower Holdings ($5,000), Livingstone Shire Council ($30,000), GKI Hideaway and private GKI residences and businesses.

GKI Hideaway has requested part funds from state government to help construct this much needed retaining wall to protect not just their business, but the fresh water aquifer, their neighbor, Great Keppel Island Holiday Village, and other businesses which exist on the island. GKI Hideaway is adamant that they will not survive another major weather event and are desperately trying to raise the funds (which banks will not lend), to construct the million dollar retaining wall.

Meanwhile, our Great Keppel Island operators both on the island and on the mainland are all working hard to continue providing great service and product to both our customers and our sellers.

On the marketing front, Great Keppel Island Hideaway is now receiving bookings from some of the largest Australian Inbound Tour Operators (ITO’s) based in Sydney for visitors from France and greater Europe/UK, thanks to working in partnership with Capricorn Enterprise in our Tourism Trade Distribution Mentoring program and ongoing familiarization program by key influencers.

Customers are literally being booked for their two week once in a life-time Australian holiday to Sydney, Ayers Rock, Kings Canyon, Kakadu, Litchfield National Park and Great Keppel Island as their ONLY Queensland and Southern Great Barrier Reef Experience! This leap in marketing cannot be underestimated and reflects the complexity of the tourism distribution system – we have succeeded in what usually takes operators more than five years to achieve.

Capricorn Enterprise this week has launched our new Great Keppel Island Map which has been in the making for a few months with our GKI Operators. The map outlines walking tracks, snorkeling spots and the Great Barrier Reef’s ‘Great 8’ Marine Life.

Meanwhile, it was recently reported that China Capital Investment Group (CCIG) purchased the Lease owned South Molle Island in the Whitsundays for $25 Million, having purchased the Lease owned Daydream Island Resort and Spa in early 2015 for $30 Million.

Will Turtle Island, a Freehold island near Gladstone on the market for $4 Million be next, or will it be Tower Holding’s Great Keppel Island Resort Leasehold?

Whatever the future holds, Capricorn Enterprise will continue to promote what we do have (not what we don’t have) and work hard in the areas of Tourism Product, Management and Marketing with all of our Great Keppel Island and mainland operators (present and future) in our magnificent Southern Great Barrier Reef Destination!

Mary Carroll
Chief Executive Officer
Capricorn Enterprise

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