An underwater interactive sculpture installation in Port Phillip Bay, featuring life size figures and where divers and snorkelers of all ages will be able to have their photo taken and transmitted instantly to the worldwide web, will be part of Victoria’s future marine international tourism attraction.
The protected water of the Northern Bellarine Peninsula is the ideal location for the proposed installation. A detailed report in 2013 investigating this opportunity identified “The Dell”, a natural amphitheatre 21 kilometres from the City of Greater Geelong at Clifton Springs, as the most suitable location for such an attraction with crystal clear water and the ideal depth of between two and three metres.
Roger Grant, Executive Director of Tourism Greater Geelong & the Bellarine and Steven Potts, Chief Executive of the Boating Industry Association of Victoria, in a joint statement, said the proposed innovative marine tourism project would provide Victoria with a major attraction for both the international and domestic tourism market and would stimulate ongoing employment and economic activity for the Bellarine Peninsula and Geelong.
The project reflects the key findings of Tourism Australia 2012 report ‘2020’ which stated…. “The greatest drivers of international visitor demand to Australia are coastal, aquatic and wildlife experience”.
Mr. Grant said “These underwater sculpture applications have been highly successful overseas providing outstanding dive experiences in a perfect environment for those learning the skills of snorkelling and diving.
“Once established, the underwater sculpture installation becomes an attraction to marine life providing an environment to encourage a wide variety of sea plants and creatures to enhance the dive experience.”
Mr. Potts said the Boating Industry Association of Victoria (BIAV) not only recognised the extraordinary tourism potential of the project but saw the innovative concept as providing a major educational resource to educate people about the importance of Port Phillip Bay’s environment.
“With Victoria’s population forecast to double there will be increased environmental pressure on the Bay and an increasing need to educate the wider community.
“Having an underwater resource such as this, which can engage the community on their mobile phones, tablets and computers, is one of the most important environmental initiatives the Victorian Government, Federal Government or corporate sponsor could take to educate the community on the unique environment of Port Phillip Bay.”
Mr Potts said the release of the project concept, detailed in a report by well-known marine tourism consultants Wayne Hill and Sheree Marris for Tourism Greater Geelong & the Bellarine and Parks Victoria in 2013, is part of a BIAV program to promote economic and employment development opportunities in Victoria’s ‘Blue Economy’.
“Blue infrastructure and blue open space underpins major economic development, the tourism industry and employment within Victoria, with the boating industry alone contributing $4.5 billion to the Victorian economy and employing 17,500 people.
“The BIAV as an industry has a policy of supporting public projects. This innovative tourism project that needs minimal funding to create a world class facility would be of major benefit to current and future generations. It is important to get it on the public agenda,” Mr Potts said.
* Background on the Cancun Underwater Museum The Cancun Underwater Museum (MUSA) project began when Jason DeCaires Taylor, an English artist teamed up with Jaime Gonzalez, the director of the National Park and Roberto Diaz, then President of the Nautical Association for Cancun and Isla Mujeres. Something had to be done about the damage to the local reef areas. Hurricanes, tropical storms and mankind were taking their toll on these natural gardens. The three experts came up with the idea of submerging life sized statues in order to create an amazing artificial reef area where coral reef could grow and in which marine life and fish could inhabit and breed. The museum now consists of two ‘salons’ and includes over 460 statues made by Jason and some other local artists.