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By Mark Beale

THE Whitsundays’ Breakfree Long Island Resort is about to close ahead of a major re-vamp.

The resort, owned by Ocean Hotels and Tourism since 1995, is set to undergo a substantial upgrade of existing facilities during 2015, with a tentative re-opening date set for some time in 2016.

In addition to these upgrades, planning for a major re-development of underutilised land at the resort is underway.

This includes the building of 160 new accommodation units.

Ocean Hotels and Tourism Group General Manager Julie Duncan said a formal development application was now being prepared for submission to Whitsunday Regional Council. She said the long-term plan was “fantastic news”.

Current facilities at the resort, built on the Happy Bay beachfront include 140 guest accommodation units in the main resort, as well as 50 beds in its backpacker accommodation (Barefoot Lodge), and 45 staff units.

The resort was originally developed by leading global tourism company Contiki in the mid 1980s at a cost of about $30 million at that time.

In a prepared statement Ms Duncan said this latest revamp was driven by a strengthening outlook for the Whitsundays, influenced by the recent substantial fall in the Australian dollar and its projected effect of encouraging more Australians to holiday in Australia and grow inbound markets, particularly from the Asian region.

“Ensuring all Ocean Hotels and Tourism group products are ready to cater for this influx continues to be a key priority,” she said.

Whitsundays Marketing and Development Limited (WMDL) Executive Director Jeff Aquilina said despite the resort’s closure the investment in the product was a positive sign for the region.

The resort will close for the wet season at the end of January. At the time of going to press yesterday, no answers had been supplied to questions about the number of staff redundancies or job opportunities at any of the group’s other holdings.

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