18/03/2009 - 22:00

Landbank’s slow rate of return a concern

18/03/2009 - 22:00

Bookmark

Save articles for future reference.

FRUSTRATION over the prohibitive barriers to tourist accommodation development has intensified, after news the first development site released under the Landbank program, aimed at fast-tracking accommodation developments, had stalled.

FRUSTRATION over the prohibitive barriers to tourist accommodation development has intensified, after news the first development site released under the Landbank program, aimed at fast-tracking accommodation developments, had stalled.

Earlier this month, plans for a hotel on Rottnest Island were scrapped after the Broadwater Consortium and the Rottnest Island Authority failed to reach an agreement.

The decision comes almost two years after the consortium was chosen as the preferred proponent to develop the site under Tourism WA's Landbank initiative, designed to streamline approval processes to release investor-ready development sites in key locations.

To date, none of the sites released through Landbank, namely Rottnest, Tom Price and Denham, has progressed to development stage.

Last August, Auzcorp was selected as the preferred bidder to develop a $45 million, 136-room hotel for the Tom Price site, which was released in June 2007.

There are reports the project has reportedly been put on hold; however, the developer has until mid-year to take up the option to develop.

Two proposals were put forward for the Denham site - one from Aspen and one from Edge Resorts - but both were rejected.

The firms were advised almost 12 months after the expression of interest closed, in October 2008, that neither would progress to the second stage of the EOI process because they did not meet the evaluation criteria.

Edge Resorts Group principal Jon Jessop said despite being good in-principle, the Landbank initiative had so far failed to deliver.

"They've had opportunities on great land where they haven't been able to execute," he said.

"In four years they haven't got a brick laid."

Tourism WA executive director industry development, Jennifer Duffecy, said the tourism sector faced the same challenges as developers in the private sector.

"Tourists like to stay in special places, and those places are hard to develop. Some are in conservation areas, or close to the coast ... you're not looking at easy to develop sites, and that's one reason the government went into the initiative in the first place," she said.

Last month, Tourism WA launched a review after the industry expressed its concerns over the difficulty in developing tourism projects in WA.

The review will be undertaken within a six-month period, with consultants appointed to investigate the issues and report back to the review committee, which will then report to government.

Tourism Council of WA president Paul King said developers were encountering a perfect storm in the current economic climate, with no sentiment or appetite to develop, and no confidence in the banks.

He said the government needed to step in and provide incentives to developers.

"There has to be involvement by government ... to provide incentives for tourism development, not just accommodation, but things that will bring people to an area," Mr King told WA Business News.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options