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An artist's impression of the Biome Project at Perth Airport. Image: The Australian Biome Project

Tourism game-changer to land at Perth Airport

Perth Airport is paving the way for Western Australia to have a tourism attraction of global significance, setting aside land to facilitate the development of the $510 million Australian Biome Project.

The Biome Project, which is proposed to comprise five large, high-tech dome structures showcasing the unique climates and environments of WA, is designed to reduce the need for tourists to travel long distances to experience its unique attractions.

As well as WA’s unique flora and fauna, the structures will also showcase indigenous culture, with Dreamtime creation stories, traditional lifestyles and Aboriginal art to become highlights of the development.

Perth Airport and the Biome Project team will sign a memorandum of understanding today, with the agreement setting aside 15 hectares of land in the airport precinct while a business case for the project is developed.

The project team initially pitched for the project to be built on the Burswood Peninsula, between Optus Stadium and Crown Towers.

Project spokesperson Adam Barnard said the airport site would provide several advantages, not the least of which would be a significant construction cost saving from the project’s original $650 million budget.

“It’s a great location, it will have a new Metronet rail station, it is close to the CBD, and it is Commonwealth land, which means it removes a significant number of barriers and it has significantly less geotechnical and servicing constraints which has reduced the potential construction cost by an estimated $140 million,” Mr Barnard told Business News.

Mr Barnard said he expected a series of partnership agreements to be unveiled following the signing of the MOU, with negotiations well under way with funding, design, technology and construction partners.

“We think that we will get a significant amount of in-kind support for the project because of the benefits it will bring Western Australia by building a global scale attraction,” Mr Barnard said.

“This is not a theme park, it is a global scale attraction that will be marketed worldwide. 

“It will help attract airlines to establish new air routes and it will become an environmental centre of excellence along with the social justice benefits a project like this would bring.”

Mr Barnard said the biggest benefit for WA would be the scale of the project, which promises to become a globally-significant attraction.

“We are creating something big enough that it will be a destination in its own right,” he said.

“That’s what Perth’s been lacking. We’ve got beautiful beaches and beautiful scenery but so does a lot of places.”

Tourism Council WA chief executive Evan Hall agreed that the biome project would help to solve a fundamental issue with WA tourism, in that there are no major attractions to draw international visitors.

“It’s absolutely critical that Perth gets new attractions, we haven’t had a major attraction for well over 20 years and it shows,” Mr Hall said.

“By major attraction we mean 100,000 patrons per year at a minimum, and we don’t have much at that level and nothing new for about a quarter of a century.”

Mr Hall said it was extremely encouraging for the Biome Project to take the significant step forward of securing a location, with developments of its ilk desperately needed to boost the tourism sector.

He said it promised to be a unique attraction because of its focus on WA’s natural environment and Aboriginal culture.

“Of course that can’t be replicated anywhere else,” Mr Hall told Business News.

“There are other not dissimilar experiences such as Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, but what we would be showing is Western Australian flora, fauna and culture, that’s what makes it unique. 

“It’s up there with WA rock lobster and the quokka, you just can’t get them anywhere else, you have to come here and it illustrates what a different place Western Australia is. 

“Not every visitor is going to be able to experience all of WA in a single trip, so to be able to give everyone a taste through the biome, ideally you’d get some repeat visitation.

“People might see the environment and then plan to come back and actually go to the Kimberley. It will certainly have that advantage of flow-on, repeat visitation.”

Perth Airport chief executive Kevin Brown said the agreement would allow the Biome Project team to determine the viability of the project and secure funding.

The airport will not have a financial involvement in the project other than providing the site, Mr Brown said,

“It will allow them to undertake the important process of engaging and consulting with the indigenous traditional custodians of the airport estate through the Perth Airport partnership group.”

Comments

Perth
I think calling it a 'game-changer' is pretty strong. That said, we’ll take any innovation we can in Perth.

I would be interested to see successful examples of this that are located so remotely to other tourist destination centres, hotel accomodation and incidental participation. The airport is not a tourist attraction, it is a necessary evil (ok, thats a bit harsh) but a project of this nature surely needs to be amongst the people such as the Singapore Gardens? Burswood, the Esplanade, Kings Park perhaps. This might be at risk of being a bio-hazard if its location is based purely on land development costs.

Bibra Lake
Wonderful concept. If the quality of the installation is as good as Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, then I can see it being a huge success.

Scarborough, Western Australia
Great opportunity for short term visitors to Perth who may not have had the time to take in the full experience that Western Australia has to offer. It wll give them a taste of what is actually on offer for the next trip they plan to WA. For local visitors, it will be a mind-expanding, visual and virtual experience. Well done Perth Airport and Australian Biome project partners.

Perth
Take a look at the Eden project in Cornwall in the UK for a successful existing dome creation - it’s fabulous and attracts phenomenal amounts of visitors.

Lesmurdie
It will be ironic if you are clearing some of the last remaining iconic bushland in this area to create this project. There would be no justification.

Perth
"... is designed to reduce the need for tourists to travel long distances to experience its unique attractions." Seems a little counter-productive when trying to promote tourism. Why not put it in Sydney, then they don't need to come all the way over here? Or Singapore?

Burswood
A great idea; every person passing through Perth will see we have a major attraction and hopefully we do not have to sacrifice massive parklands around the Swan River, which we all enjoy daily.

London
Too far away for most And 100000 pa that seems non viable Goal is great

Should be built on Heirisson island near Perth city, but reshaped into a giant swan – iconic and progressive! I guess this project was inspired by Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver or Singapore Cloud Forest.

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