New golf courses could save King Island tourism
There’s a renewed spring in the step of residents of King Island – you know, that little dot in Bass Straight halfway between Tasmania and Victoria.
And it all comes down to one thing – golf.
Cape Wickham debuted in the Top 100 at No. 24
When King Island lost its abattoirs a couple of years ago, residents feared the worst.
Even when a couple of golfers passed through, marvelled at the expanse of land available and suggested they could build a couple of world-class golf courses, the locals were not quite convinced.
According to reports the year-round resident numbers were beginning to dip below the 1,500 mark and even tourist numbers were beginning to taper off.
The closure of the meatworks in 2012 threatened to be another nail on their tourist coffin as the cattle farmers were suddenly forced to pay almost triple the freight costs to get their cattle across to mainland Tasmania.
Now it appear the game they play in Heaven is beginning to turn things around.
According to the Tourism President of Jim Benn, golf, or two new courses which will be fully operational by the end of the year, could change the lay of the land significantly.
Cape Wickham Links opened late last year and already ranks as high as 24th in the world and third in Australia after only a few months of full play.
Likewise the Ocean Dunes course, which already has 15 holes in play and is due to open in September, threatens to be equally as impressive.
“A couple of years ago King Island was in the doldrums and people were feeling pretty glum when we lost our abattoir,” said Benn.
“A couple of golfers came over and said they were going to develop a couple of courses and we said, ‘that’s wonderful, but we’ll believe it when we see it’.”
“The golf courses said when they started up they needed at least 8,000 rounds a year to be viable.”
“But going on the experience of the courses in northern Tasmania (Barnbougle Dunes and Lost Farm) they expected that they would probably end up running about 20,000 rounds a year per course.”
“That’s going to increase our tourist numbers from about 6,000 to around 25,000 visitors annually.”