Regional Development Australia Eyre Peninsula (RDAEP) CEO Dion Dorward  has been working intensively on the project for the past couple of years after initially identifying the developers via an Expression of Interest Process and assisting to work through key project determinants such as potential tenancies, stakeholder engagement, corporate links, regional visitor economics and so forth. An exciting development with huge benefits to Whyalla and the Eyre Peninsula.

The Advertiser, 28 July 2020

Whyalla’s tourism industry is set to be supercharged through the construction of a $100m nine-storey resort on the city’s foreshore.

The project, which is yet to be approved, would include about 180 hotel rooms, 44 luxury apartments, food and beverage outlets, conference facilities and a large saltwater lagoon.

Thrive Construct executive chairman Barrie Harrop is the driving force behind the project. He and other investors have paid an undisclosed fee to buy the Whyalla Foreshore Motor Inn, which would be demolished to make way for the resort.

Mr Harrop presented the concept to Whyalla City Council yesterday, to gain feedback before lodging plans for the project with the State Commission Assessment Panel.

He initiated the development of the $1.5bn Melbourne Central Shopping Centre and was a spearhead behind proposals to redevelop Adelaide’s court and market precinct.

He declined to name the investors behind the Whyalla project but said he was working with a major hoteliers group.

Mr Harrop said the resort would fulfil a number of needs on the Eyre Peninsula.

“There is a diabolic shortage of high-level corporate entertainment space and high-level accommodation,” he said.

He said once borders opened up again, there would be plenty of opportunities to attract divers to Whyalla to see the city’s renowned cuttlefish.

Pre-fabrication work on the resort would be done off-site. Work is expected to start on-site within a year and be completed by the end of 2022.

The Whyalla Foreshore Motor Inn has been owned by couple Barbara and Tom Derham since 1985.

Mrs Derham said while it was sad to let go of an asset her family had owned for 35 years, the new resort would provide huge benefits for Whyalla.

“This will be a destinational hotel and I think it’s wonderful for regional tourism,” she said.

“It will be a sad day for me when the bulldozers come in, but it will be a wonderful asset for the city of Whyalla.

“I believe it will really put Whyalla on the map as a tourist destination. We’re already on our way, especially with the amount of people coming to see the cuttlefish, but this will add something extra.”

South Australian Tourism Commission chief executive Rodney Harrex said the SA Regional Visitor Strategy outlined that accommodation of the resort’s scale was needed in the region to create direct and indirect jobs. “Creating a destination resort will encourage other tourism businesses and ideas to expand and come to fruition,” Mr Harrex said.