Everyone loves a positive tourism announcement and there have been plenty of them in the past few weeks! Delegates at VTIC’s Victorian Tourism Conference were the first to hear Tourism and Major Events Minister Louise Asher’s announcement of the Victorian Trails Strategy 2014-2024. Other good news stories have included the launch of the Ballarat Station Precinct Master Plan and the appointment of VTIC life member Andrew Dwyer as Chair of the Tourism Victoria Board.
Announcing the Victorian Trails Strategy on day two of the conference (15 July), Minister Asher said it “sets a framework for enhancing the state’s trails as valuable social and recreation hubs that generate tourism, business and employment opportunities”. The vision is for Victoria “to be recognised as a leading trail-based destination”, providing diverse, quality trail experiences for visitors, “while strengthening the Victorian economy and improving the health, well-being and lifestyles of the community”.
With a network of more than 2000 trails, totalling around 8000 kilometres and varying from walking tracks to challenging mountain bike routes, Victoria’s trail assets are significant. The strategy provides a framework for trail investment, planning, development, maintenance and marketing, although VTIC notes that there has been no funding announced to support or execute it as yet.
Other pleasing news for tourism in recent weeks has included the appointment of Point Leisure Group for the development of a tourism destination at Point Nepean, as well as the announcement of the inaugural Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in the Geelong region in 2015.
There have also been some important policy announcements, namely the cessation of the TQUAL National Accreditation Framework and the parameters for the new Demand-Driver Infrastructure Programme.
On 11 July, tourism ministers across Australia agreed to a set of principles, a definition and a funding mechanism for the Demand-Driver Infrastructure Programme. They agreed that funded projects should align strategically with relevant state, regional and destination plans, drive demand, increase quality and increase visitor expenditure to assist in meeting targets in Australia’s long-term tourism strategy Tourism 2020.
Federal Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb previously signalled his intention to provide the funds for this program directly to states and territories, as his view is that they are best-placed to decide their demand-driver infrastructure priorities. Austrade will now develop a project agreement with states and territories, which will be based on the agreed program principles. These include, among others, that projects must align with one or more of the Tourism 2020 strategic areas or a request by the tourism minister, that the project will demonstrate a return on the government’s investment across the tourism supply chain and that funding must be provided that at least matches the Federal Government’s contribution. Further information will be made available on the Austrade website.