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It's difficult to imagine that while there may be excellent, short-term economic benefits, we're going to see the type of development that will allow the rare, on-of-a-kind destination to remain as protected as it is now.

A proposed Great Keppel Island resort worth A$600 million ($613 million) won approval from Australia’s Queensland state government, the first major new tourism project in the Great Barrier Reef in 25 years.

The plan is for a hotel, eco-resort villas and apartments, and a marina and a Greg Norman-designed golf course, state Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said in a statement today.

“It would provide a huge boost to both the construction and tourism industries — two of Queensland’s four key economic pillars — creating hundreds of construction jobs over a 12-year construction period and more than a 1,000 permanent operational jobs,” Seeney said.

While Queensland, in Australia’s northeast, is also a hub of the nation’s mining investment boom, its tourism industry has struggled with the appreciation of the local dollar that has made international visits more expensive. The state jobless rate fell to 5.5 percent in January from 6.1 percent a month earlier, compared with a national level of 5.4 percent.

The Great Barrier Reef, home to 1,500 species of fish, is larger than the Great Wall of China and is the only living object visible from space. It is more than 3,000 kilometers (1,865 miles) long and runs almost parallel to the Queensland coast.

Editor: Paul Tighe, Jim McDonald. To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Heath in Sydney at [email protected]. To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Tighe at [email protected].

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Photo credit: Fisherman's Beach on Great Keppel Island, Australia. Michael Zimmer / Flickr

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