The state’s peak tourism industry body says the scare-campaign being led by federal member for Corangamite, Darren Cheeseman MP, in reaction to the State Government’s proposal to allow private investment in national parks is misleading.
Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) Chief Executive Dianne Smith says, “Mr Cheeseman is underestimating the importance of tourism activity in the Corangamite region. These proposed changes will allow the tourism industry to flourish in a responsible and sustainable way, and we should all be encouraging that.
“In short, the politics need to be removed from this discussion.
“Claims that the initiative threatens the work spent restoring and preserving the landscape are just not true. In fact, the Government’s guidelines to investment 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, including along the Great Ocean Road.
“The opportunity to allow private investment in national parks shows real vision and will enable many sites that have so much unfulfilled potential to be enjoyed by more visitors.
“Increased visitor activity to the national park regions will benefit the local and state economy, providing jobs and economic activity long into the future. This is particularly true of the Great Ocean Road where funds will be reinvested into the iconic natural landmark.
“Our national parks are steeped in history and are destinations that appeal to domestic and international visitors.
“We have long stated there must be a collaborative approach to any development in our national parks from all stakeholders, including industry, and state and local government. This can lead to sites being developed into sustainable tourism destinations that consider the environmental sensitivities of the area, and we understand this is the State Government’s intention.
“Allowing sensitive and appropriate development in Victoria’s national parks brings the state into line with most other Australian states and will allow us to add even greater depth to our already impressive 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. What we need is a considered debate on this topic rather than unfounded claims.”