The Queensland government has introduced strict new standards for major integrated resort developments as part of efforts to bolster the appeal of the state’s tourism sector to overseas visitors.

Integrated resort developments located in regional Queensland will now need to be situated in or near to major population centres, defined by the state government as those with a catchment of at least 150,000 people within a 70-kilometre radius of the city centre.

Resorts must be situated near international airports that are already operational, or airports that can be readily upgraded to international standards, in order to handle large volumes of overseas tourists.

Other infrastructure requirements include well-established transportation networks and tourism facilities with growth potential.

According to Dr Anthony Lynham, Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, the goal of the new requirements is to enhance the appeal of Queensland’s tourism sector to overseas markets, with an especial focus upon the Asia-Pacific.

“Tourists, and particularly those from the growing Asian tourism markets, demand large resorts, with an array of facilities within easy access of an international airport,” he said. “They want the whole package in one location.”

Lynham pointed to a number of regional centres across Queensland that could readily satisfy the new criteria for hosting integrated resort developments, including Cairns, Rockhampton, Townsville, Mackay and the Gold and Sunshine Coasts.

The Queensland government’s current goal is to more than double international visitor expenditures from $3.8 billion per year to in excess of $9 billion by the decade’s end.

The new conditions will come into play should one of two regional development proposals currently on the table fail to proceed, compelling the state government to pursue other developers.

“If one or both of the current regional IRD proposals do not go ahead, the government may go back to the market to seek expressions of interest for available regional licenses,” said Lynham.