Kangaroo Island’s airport will get a long-awaited upgrade, enabling direct interstate flights and food export opportunities expected to inject almost $30 million into the economy.
Cities and Built Environment Minister Jamie Briggs will today reveal a $9 million federal funding boost to kickstart the project, which includes an extended runway, new cargo processing facilities and larger terminal.
Expected to be completed by mid-2017, the Kingscote Airport upgrade has been forecast to create hundreds of jobs by triggering development in one of the state’s key tourism destinations.
More than 30,000 extra visitors are expected to be attracted to the Island as a result of the upgrade, expected to start within weeks, which will enable the airport to accommodate direct flights from Sydney and Melbourne for domestic and international visitors.
The federal funds, part of a national regional development package to be announced by Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, add to $3.5 million allocated last year for the airport by the State Government.
Mr Briggs, whose Mayo electorate includes Kangaroo Island, said the game-changing project would give many businesses confidence to expand production and create jobs.
“Kangaroo Island is the jewel in South Australia’s tourism crown and increasing its exposure to new international markets will ensure it continues to prosper for generations to come,” he said.
“This will unlock huge opportunities for the Island’s world-class primary producers and tourism service providers, with the local economy forecast to grow by almost $30 million within five years of the new airport’s operation.
“This project will significantly boost local employment opportunities, with 25 direct jobs created during construction and over 250 jobs, more broadly, within five years.”
Deputy Premier John Rau last year allocated $3.5 million for the airport upgrade as part of a package designed to spur Island tourism and agricultural industries.
At the time, Mr Rau said the airport upgrade would be “a significant game-changer” for the Island and would help local farmers boost exports of in-demand fresh produce.
The State Government had asked for up to $13.5 million in federal funds for the airport redevelopment.
Mr Briggs said he had been working closely with the Kangaroo Island Council, which had developed a business case ensuring the project was “shovel-ready”.
A council and KI Futures Authority proposal published last year stated enabling 50 to 70-seater aircraft to land at the Island would boost visitor numbers from about 40,000 annually to about 70,000. State Government documents said an upgrade to accommodate 100-seat planes would cost $17 million.
The business case said the project could generate between 107 and 382 new jobs and lift annual spending on the Island from $123 million to $225 million.
The airport upgrade go-ahead follows other major recent investments to boost the tourism industry.
A four-star $35 million resort at American River, on the island’s northeast, in August was given major project status.
The resort includes a marina, ferry wharf, 200 beds, shops and restaurants. Construction is expected to be complete by March, 2017.
Ferry operator SeaLink last year opened a new $3.5 million ferry terminal at Penneshaw to cater for more than 200,000 passengers a year.
[CORRECTION: The funding is actually matched by the State Government dollar-for-dollar.]