A Malaysian multinational logging corporation has set its sights on developing a $1 billion equestrian complex and resort just 30 kilometres north-west of Townsville targeted at Chinese tourists.
The landowner Landmark Projects, which have owned the beachfront site north of Toolakea for over 25 years, are part of Rimbunan Hijau Group, a Malaysian group with interests including in forestry, hotels and media.
Early plans for the “North Queensland Country Club Resort and Equestrian Centre” include 2,800 hotel rooms and units spread over several five-storey buildings, set to be built over five stages and completed by 2044.
The project will also include a country club resort, world-class equestrian centre, arenas, horse stabling, polo fields, training areas, veterinarian services, cross-country trails and camping sites as well as an art gallery and restaurants.
The project is the vision of Malaysia’s Tiong family who have actively purchased land holdings throughout Queensland with keen investment interests in agriculture and mango farming, aquaculture and property.
Rimbunan Hijau Group
• The RH Group is a family run conglomerate founded by the Tiong family, now predominately based in Malaysia and Hong Kong.
• The RH Group’s activities span eight countries, with projects and businesses in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, China; and North America, including tourism, hospitality, hotel and media interests.
RH Group founding member Tom Tiong and his wife, who initially created Landmark Projects in 1989, purchased the site at Toolakea with the intent to develop it as a Tourism enterprise.
Tom’s daughter Sijia Tiong now spearheads the development aiming to transform Townsville’s Northern Beaches, tourism industry and local economy.
If realised, approximately 3,750 direct full-time equivalent operational jobs will be created and inject more than $360 million of tourism spending each year in the Townsville region.
Subject to approvals, construction of Stage 1 could start in 2022 and the resort could commence welcoming guests by 2024.
A new trail to attract equestrian-obsessed Chinese tourists
The Chinese equestrian industry has grown significantly since the Beijing Olympics in 2008, with Chinese equestrian clubs actively seeking international partnerships and collaboration to develop the sport both within mainland China and internationally.
By the end of 2017, there were approximately 1,452 Equestrian Clubs in China with an estimated 450,000 registered amateur riders across the country.
The uptake in horse riding has reflected a class commitment to spending on status items, and this now extends to the leisure activities deemed “exclusive” enough.
“Chinese tourists are also moving away from the ‘mass tourism’ groups and instead, now seek opportunities to experience the ‘great outdoors’ with more nature based and authentic experiences, albeit with accommodation options that will meet their needs,” Landmark Projects’ initial advice statement said.
“This growth in equestrian activities establishes a strong platform and a significant opportunity for the project to further assist in capturing and catering for the burgeoning worldwide and Chinese equestrian market.”