Protecting the state’s natural attractions is imperative in the Victorian Government’s intention to allow private sector investment and longer leases in national parks, says the Victorian tourism industry.
Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) Chief Executive Dianne Smith says, “The key to the protection of our natural assets is the robust guidelines for private sector tourism development. The issue is about enabling appropriate development, not focusing on who pays for tourism infrastructure.
“The industry understands community concerns about the proposed changes, however we believe discussions have become blinkered.
“These changes will increase accessibility to natural attractions, they will provide economic benefits for local communities, and proposed projects will be strenuously assessed and monitored according to government guidelines.
“We are not talking about huge and unsympathetic buildings being built in pristine locations – it could be a small scale, low impact walkers’ lodge in a location far from the park boundary. It will open up these experiences for more people to enjoy, as well as spreading economic benefits.
“We completely support the strict adherence to environmental regulations. We would not jeopardise our natural assets in any way. This would be, for the tourism industry, like killing the goose that lays our golden eggs.
“The government’s guidelines provide a framework to shape appropriate and sensitive tourism development and can enhance the natural environment and cultural history of national parks across the state.
“The opportunity will enable many sites that have so much unfulfilled potential to be enhanced by the capacity of the private sector, and brings the state into line with most other Australian states. The private sector, in partnership with government, should be trusted to develop our natural assets in a sensible, sustainable and appropriate way.
“This allows Victoria to add even greater depth to our already impressive and sought-after nature-based tourism offering.
“This opportunity will allow Victoria’s $19 billion tourism industry to remain competitive and compelling and to continue to make a valuable contribution to the economic and cultural lives of Victorians as well as visitors.
“We call for considered dialogue on this topic rather than extreme discussions.”