Emirates will invest Dh142 million ($38.8 million) to build a luxury conservation resort in Australia’s Blue Mountains, its first such hospitality development outside of the UAE.
HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of the Emirates Group, and the Hon. Sandra Nori MP, minister for tourism in New South Wales, announced the resort’s development plans at a media conference in Sydney.
Using the same philosophy as the airline’s Al Maha Desert Resort & Reserve in Dubai, the new conservation project will be one of Australia’s most environmentally sympathetic developments and will provide world-leading hospitality facilities and services to guests.
The new project is located in the Wolgan Valley of the Blue Mountains, where 3,600 acres of freehold land will be incorporated into a reserve.
The site is currently farmland that borders the Gardens of Stone National Park in an area, where there are many threats to wildlife and conservation. Guest facilities will occupy less than two per cent of the total land area.
Sheikh Ahmed said, “We want to take this beautiful, but sadly distressed rural farming site and turn it into a sanctuary to further showcase Australia to the world.”
He added: “Working closely with environmental and government agencies, we even hope to introduce some threatened species to this new reserve. We want this project to gain the same recognition for Australia that we have received for Al Maha and the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve in Dubai.”
The resort is expected to have all the government approvals in place in the next few months and has an opening planned for 2007. The Hon. Sandra Nori said the Blue Mountains resort would be a welcome addition to nature-based tourism and a major draw card for international visitors.
She added, “Few global cities can boast a pristine world-heritage listed attraction like the Blue Mountains on their door step, just over one hour from the centre of Sydney. This new conservation resort will show, there is no place like Sydney.”
Emirates has already engaged in hundreds of hours of consultations with government and community organisations in Australia to ensure the new project will meet and exceed standards for environment protection and quality hospitality.
Emirates will also become a corporate member of The Australian Wildlife Conservancy, whose expertise is well known in the conservation area. Along with National Parks & Wildlife Service and local conservation groups, their knowledge will be invaluable during the creation of the Wolgan Valley project.
Local Wolgan Valley species already identified as under pressure that will be encouraged to expand within the sanctuary include koalas, spotted-tailed quolls, yellow-bellied gliders and brush-tailed rock wallabies.
By Jonna Simon
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