Potential partners are lining up to get involved with the Australian Biome Project, as the team behind the $550 million tourism development seeks $6.5 million to conduct a full feasibility study and advance the proposal to its next stage of development.
Since signing a memorandum of understanding with Perth Airport last year, the Australian Biome Project team has been approached by a raft of international organisations seeking to assist in developing the concept, finalising its design or providing project funding.
The Australian Biome Project proposes to solve several fundamental problems in Western Australian tourism by showcasing indigenous culture and the state’s unique natural environment at a city location.
A focus of the project is to celebrate WA’s Aboriginal culture and diverse regions, encouraging repeat visitation and regional dispersal.
In October, Perth Airport agreed to set aside 15 hectares of land in the airport precinct to facilitate a feasibility study for the project.
A growing list of organisations have provided expressions of interest to support the proposal, including international architecture groups Zaha Hadid and Heatherwick Studios, as well as Perth-based FHSI Architects.
Indigenous charity iHelp Indigenous Corporation will assist in providing an Aboriginal workforce for the Biome, as well as facilitate tax-deductible gifts for the development.
Australian Biome Project spokesperson Adam Barnard said the next step would be to complete a feasibility study, with $6.5 million in seed funding required to make that happen.
“Discussions with funding partners are going very well, we’re in the middle of a couple of big negotiations, for example we have been approached for full project funding, but we have also been approached for some different opportunities,” Mr Barnard told Business News.
Mr Barnard said internal discussions are also underway to engage state government to consider a public private partnership and emulate the success of Optus Stadium which was built under a PPP with the previous Liberal government.
“Optus Stadium has been a resounding success for domestic visitation and the Australian Biome Project would mirror that outcome for the international market,” he said.
Mr Barnard said the project team was extremely keen to provide some certainty over whether the project could proceed, to provide a beacon of hope for the WA tourism sector, with operators weighing the economic impacts of the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
“This would change everything, that’s where a lot of other states and countries that have this level of attraction have such a competitive advantage,” he said.
“It would take the onus off the government constantly spending taxpayers’ money to attract people to the state, which is only going to get harder because of what’s happening now with the coronavirus, which could lead to some serious global economic problems.
“Because of the lead time of the project and its scale, it gives the industry something to hang their hat on.
“International tourism numbers have consistently underperformed due to the lack of attractions.”
Australian Biome Project board member Rodney Garlett said he was looking forward to working with the team to showcase the project to the rest of Australia and the world.
“Our traditional culture and history is strong and the Australian Biome will showcase and demonstrate this in many different forms,” he said.
“We are proud Noongar people that are well connected to country and I am looking forward to seeing our people interact and help design, build and construct this facility.”