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Stunning landmark aquarium is first for 17 years

September 20, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Australia yesterday opened its first major public aquarium in 17 years, with Tourism Minister Steven Ciobo declaring the Cairns Aquarium and Reef Research Centre officially open.

The new aquarium houses 15,000 fish and aquatic animals native to Tropical North Queensland across 71 live exhibits. Backers of the project say it will be a significant revenue-generating attraction for northern Australia, spurring substantial economic development, boosting visitor numbers and increasing visitor spend, visitor nights and return visitation.

The new aquarium will be the only one in the world to exclusively showcase species from two adjoining World Heritage protected areas: the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforest. It’s expected to attract 720,000 visitors a year.

Ciobo said the new attraction was a welcome addition to the city’s world-class tourism infrastructure.

Aquarium wonder

“The opening of the Cairns Aquarium is terrific news for the local tourism industry. The Aquarium’s displays will be a great way for visitors to experience what the region has to offer.

“It will provide a fantastic new experience for both domestic and international visitors to Cairns, and provide an additional way to encounter the spectacular creatures of the Great Barrier Reef.”

The Cairns region already attracted 5 million visitors annually, generating AUD 3.2 billion for the local economy, and was developing new markets through enhanced aviation links with key destinations in Asia, Ciobo said.

“Providing the right mix of attractions, accommodation and transport is vital to ensuring Australia’s tourism industry continues to thrive and generates more jobs and income for Australians. That is why tourism infrastructure is such a big priority for the Turnbull Coalition Government, which has provided grants, tax incentives and planning assistance to the Cairns Aquarium.”

Potential resident, Cheilinus undulatus

Ciobo said Federal Member for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch, had been a passionate advocate for the project.

“He’s shadowed me in the corridors of parliament like one of the aquarium’s sharks shadows its prey. I know Warren is disappointed he can’t be here today, however his work at the United Nations, especially at this time with North Korea and other challenges, is very important.”

Queensland Senator Ian Macdonald said supporting the tourism industry was vital.

He congratulated the aquarium’s co-founders and directors, Daniel Leipnik and Andrew Preston, “who have worked tirelessly to make it a reality”.

As well as its aquatic displays, the facility will also house a Research Centre undertaking work on coral conservation, in partnership with universities and other research institutes.

Edited by Peter Needham

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