New planning reforms detailed by the State Government last week will facilitate the development of high quality tourism offerings, helping to fill current gaps caused in part by planning restrictions that don’t give tourism operators the flexibility to grow and increase their competitiveness.
VTIC’s submission to the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission inquiry into tourism identified planning regulations as one of the key factors that have hindered the industry.
The review of planning permissions highlights the importance of planning in general for the successful development of Victorian tourism. By streamlining some of the planning processes, the reforms will give some relief to operators, particularly in regional areas.
Of particular interest to the tourism industry are reforms around limits on the number of people that may stay in bed and breakfast accommodation, as well as the removal of restrictions around function centre, hotel and restaurant developments.
Furthermore, the removal of restrictions currently imposed on key activities in industries such as the agri-business sector will allow these industries to flourish as tourist attractions.
Gavin Ronan, Director of Great Ocean Road walking tour operator bothfeet, says greater flexibility and efficiency within the planning scheme is long overdue.
“If some of these proposed reforms had been in place when we established our business seven years ago, we may have had an easier time getting the business started,” he says.
The Chief Executive Officer of Yarra Ranges Regional Marketing, Mark Challis, adds: “Opportunities in agri-tourism in green wedge zones have been limited or been missed altogether due to the limits and conditions placed on certain activities and business developments. If proposed planning reforms make it easier for agri-tourism operators to do business, this will be a great boost to product options and experiences in these areas.”
VTIC welcomes the planning reform announcements, which show that the State Government is listening to the tourism industry. We will be making a submission to the public consultation process but it is also important that you, as operators and industry stakeholders, demonstrate your support by contributing your feedback. The Government is seeking your input to help finalise the reformed zones. Your comment is sought on the proposed residential, commercial, industrial and rural zones by 5pm on 21 September 2012. For more details on how to make comments on the proposed planning reforms, click here.
We now await with anticipation the Government’s response to the VCEC inquiry, which we hope will further improve the operating environment for tourism, hospitality and events businesses through much needed legislative reform.