Bass Coast must plan for future

TOURISM is on the rise and the question remains; will Bass Coast be able to keep up?
In 2016, Phillip Island attracted 1.8 million visits. This number is expected to double to 3.4 million by 2035.
To avoid negative tourism and maintain Bass Coast’s reputation as an optimum tourist destination, Phillip Island resident Braxton Laine said a secondary base for tourists off the Island must be taken into consideration.
Mr Laine said Wonthaggi had always been considered the service industry for Phillip Island, but the time has come for bigger plans on the mainland.
With affordable housing and picturesque coastal communities, Bass Coast is becoming more and more attractive. Mr Laine said preparing a long term strategic plan – spanning 40 years – would help the shire cope with the oncoming influx of tourists and homebuyers.
“Realistically, we need to look at whether Phillip Island’s roads, bridges and infrastructure can cope,” he said.
“The more people we have here, the more pressure it puts on the power grid, so we need to consider alternative energy as well. Do we need solar farms? We need to have a forward vision.”
In terms of the roads, Mr Laine believes there should be plans for more than two lanes on major highways.
“During the Moto GP it’s bumper to bumper. Realistically, in 40 years time, that’s what it could be like every weekend. We need to consider the infrastructure to handle the demand,” he said.
Mr Laine said a toll on San Remo bridge could go into a fund to support the building of infrastructure.
To handle the influx of tourism on the Island, Mr Laine said there needs to be major accommodation destinations and recreational activities on the mainland.
“We need to build accommodation off the Island to slow the congestion. People will still make the day trips but will not be all inward bound at once. I know the council and government offices are hamstrung for finances, but we need to start looking further than the next five or 10 years,” he said.
“What Bass Coast is lacking is a big hotel and a shopping complex – like a mini Southland. We are changing; regional people are becoming savvy shoppers and are shopping online. Amazon is about to have a major impact on this country and our townships will struggle. We have to take a quantum leap forward and rally some new ideas.
“As for recreation, a water park goes nicely with our theme of water and protecting the environment. It could be opened near the Desalination Plant. At the moment our dams are full; will we let the plant just go to mothballs if we have a decent season? We also need to broaden our ideas for winter. Water parks and snow fields might be a bit avant-garde, but the reality is negative tourism on Phillip Island needs to be considered.”
A company called URBNSURF is aiming to create inland surf parks in Tullamarine, Sydney and Perth. With new technology such as this, it could create less incentive to go to the coast.
Mr Laine said developing these projects could create local business opportunity and employment.
He is determined to see Bass Coast tourism prosper and has collated his ideas on a Facebook page called Wonthaggi, The Future, encouraging others to share their ideas and discuss their visions for the future.
“I am not saying my ideas are the answer, but we need to start having these conversations and planning ahead,” he said.
“Bass Coast is prospering, and if we keep attracting world events like the Moto GP and the Superbikes, we need the infrastructure and the businesses to continue to grow in the future.”

Leap forward: Phillip Island resident Braxton Laine is starting the conversation about the future of Bass Coast’s tourism.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=23526

Posted by on Dec 19 2017. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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