Peak tourism body, the Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC), has voiced its surprise and dismay at expected resistance from the State Opposition to legislation that will benefit local and state economies, despite the previous Labor Government instigating an inquiry into its validity.
VTIC Chief Executive Dianne Smith says, “Following discussion in parliament this afternoon, it is expected that the State Opposition will oppose legislation that would allow the recommendations of the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission’s Inquiry into tourism to be implemented.”
The legislation would allow private investment in sensitive, appropriate and sustainable tourism infrastructure in Victoria’s national parks and extend the lease period for national park land up to 99 years. Development would be governed by stringent guidelines.
“VTIC is bitterly disappointed with this move,” says Ms Smith. “This is a major setback for Victoria’s tourism industry and will put us at a competitive disadvantage when compared to other Australian states and territories.”
The VCEC Inquiry was instigated by the previous Labor Government and recommended that private investment be allowed in national parks in Victoria. This was agreed to by the successive Baillieu and Napthine Governments. The necessary legislation has been introduced to parliament and is being discussed at present.
“This is bad news for Victoria’s tourism industry,” says Ms Smith. “The State Opposition has reneged on its original intent. Today’s discussions are inconsistent with Victoria’s previous Nature-based Tourism Strategy 2008-2012, as well as federal programs such as National Landscapes, supported by Minister Tony Burke and former Tourism Minister Ferguson.
“Victoria has the highest national park visitation in the country, yet the economic yield from this visitation is the nation’s lowest. This is largely due to the lack of appropriate infrastructure and experiences available to visitors.
“By allowing appropriate investment, our national parks will be more accessible for locals and visitors to appreciate the natural beauty that Victoria has to offer, and ease the economic burden currently on government to maintain and develop these places.
“We call on both sides of government to support this important legislation to ensure the future development of the state’s tourism industry and economy.”