Wet'n'Wild loss a 'disappointment'

Village Roadshow have pulled out of plans to develop Aussie World on the Sunshine Coast into a world-class water theme park.
Village Roadshow have pulled out of plans to develop Aussie World on the Sunshine Coast into a world-class water theme park.
TOURISM Sunshine Coast has expressed “bitter disappointment’’ over Village Roadshow’s decision to axe its Wet'n'Wild theme park on the Sunshine Coast, saying the company had missed a golden opportunity.

TSC CEO Russell Mason told the Daily he had been left puzzled by the decision given Village had announced the plan during the middle of the global financial crisis so it could not blame that for its decision.

“It would have been a great economic boost to the region,’’ Mr Mason said.

“It is a missed opportunity from Village’s perspective,’’ he said.

Talkback callers this morning speculated that Village, which owns three theme parks on the Gold Coast, including Wet n Wild, may not have wanted to lose the large number of people who travel from the Sunshine Coast to the Gold Coast each year to visit their attractions.

But in tourism circles there has been speculation that Main Roads conditions for the Aussie World deal may have proven the stumbling block. The Daily is seeking comment from Mains Roads on the issue.

Mr Mason said given the growth of the Coast – Village’s decision was short-sighted.

“The Coast has many opportunities and unfortunately Village have not had the foresight to see this is a long term opportunity.’’

Village Roadshow was contacted on the Gold Coast and in their Melbourne office but have not returned the calls to further explain the decision.

In a press conference a short time ago, Aussie World was stressing it would go on to bigger and better things.

General manager David Thompson has told the Daily that the iconic fun park, which includes Ettamogah Pub, had been trading very well, despite the economic downturn.

Village announced plans for the theme park in August last year after entering a conditional agreement in May 2008 to acquire Aussie World and redevelop it.

But in the statement to the exchange on Wednesday it said: "After extensive research, review and planning, VRL considers that when compared with other opportunities available, the potential returns do not justify the level of investment for the world class water park which would be required to deliver a significant destination site.''

"Directors have therefore resolved not to exercise their option to acquire Aussie World.''

Mr Thompson, who faced breaking the news to staff today, said he had only spoken to Village last week.

The 23 hectare water park would have created about 400 jobs with many of Aussie World's existing 120 staff looking forward to the new opportunities for work it would have created. It was expected to attract 500,000 visitors in its first year.

"I just think it is devastating for tourism on the Sunshine Coast.''

Village's decision opens the door for the Adventura Water Park at Caloundra which has been more than five years in the planning.

The consortium last night reaffirmed its belief that its 75 hectare Caloundra Road site was the best location for a water park and tourist accommodation.

Spokesperson Tony Long said the consortium's goal now was to work with local and state agencies to deliver the facilities.

"It's patently clear that this region needs more than just beaches and hinterland to secure our share of the highly competitive tourism market,'' Mr Long said.

"We will continue to invite all parties – including Village Roadshow to work with us to help deliver this important tourism infrastructure for the region.''


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