17th February 2014
While controversy continues to rage over the protection of the Great Barrier Reef, a European company has taken a futuristic approach to enjoying the natural wonder by expressing interest in creating an underwater hotel on the Great Barrier Reef at a Sydney marine conference in early February.
Deep Ocean Technologies a Swiss-backed, Polish-based underwater accommodation company has proposed a futuristic 'Water Discus Hotel' on the Great Barrier Reef that would provide luxury hotel rooms underwater spread across two huge discs, connecting to above water pods that would house bars, restaurants and the lobby. Secured to the seabed by five legs, the hotel is designed to offer guests a safe yet direct experience with the local flora and fauna.
Adding to the already fantastic range of Great Barrier Reef accommodation, the hotel would be the first of its kind in Australia. However local officials say that it's unlikely any progress would be made in the next few decades as the environmental risk is currently too great. Despite Deep Ocean Technologies maintaining that their design has minimal impact on the environment, a Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority spokesman said the proposal would require federal government approval due to its national environmental significance.
Regardless of the proposal's reception in Tropical North Queensland, the concept has already been gaining attention with Deep Ocean Technologies currently in talks with investors for a similar hotel in Dubai as well as signing an agreement for a Discus hotel in the Maldives in June of 2013. Offering the ultimate room with a view, tourism authorities have embraced the idea as long as the reef was properly protected.
Excited by the extraordinary level of innovation, local tourism officials are a little more optimistic about the opportunity of offering such an amazing and unique experience, however stress that the sustainability of the hotel and the minimising of the environmental impact is still the top priority. One thing is clear, if a formal proposal was lodged for consideration and consequently approved, the hotel would be strictly scrutinised under environmental guidelines.
With one of north Queensland's last major tourism investments being built some 19 years ago, the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway has since paved the way for eco-conscious tourism and attractions however it does point to further innovation and expenditure needed to update the region's current offerings.