Prom cruise plan hits turbulence
A TOURISM proposal to show off Wilsons Promontory from the sea has created a stir.
Pennicott Wilderness Journeys is proposing to launch a world-class wilderness cruise within Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park. The Tasmanian company wants to launch up to nine cruises a day off the northern end of Norman Beach at Tidal River.
The proposal has been backed by the Victoria Tourism Industry Council, but volunteer group Friends of the Prom is concerned the beach may be damaged.
Friends president Mark Walters said while he understands the boat tours can show visitors parts of the Prom few people see, he is concerned the tour operation would take over the most popular beach on the Prom.
“That beach at the northern end of Norman Bay is one of the most beautiful and recognised locations on the Prom,” he said. “Being close to Tidal River campground, it is also the most used.”
He is concerned driving and parking up to three large amphibious boats on this part of the beach daily will destroy the very thing that attracts thousands of visitors to the Prom each year –the pristine wilderness beachscapes.
“Each boat is 12 metres long by four metres wide and their presence on the beach each day will be ‘in your face’,” he said.
Mr Walters is concerned about the impact the commercial operation will have on peaceful, low-key, Tidal River camping ground.
“The current management plan for Tidal River is out of date and does not plan for such a large scale commercial operation,” he said.
Mr Walters was concerned how the extra cars and visitors generated by the boat tours would be managed when Tidal River is already at bursting point in peak holiday times.
“I have asked Parks Victoria that the application not be approved until there is an independent assessment done of the impact of the boat tour operation on the public’s enjoyment of the beach at the launching site, and how the extra visitors to Tidal River will be managed,” he said.
The company believes the $3.5 million project will show tourists explore spectacular scenery and wildlife aboard custom-built amphibious craft.
Pennicott said the cruises would generate $9.7 million in economic benefit for the community a year through wages, purchases of local goods/services, marketing and flow-on effects, and create 30 new full time equivalent jobs.
Twenty-five percent of net profits would be donated to community or conservation projects.
Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) chief executive Brad Ostermeyer said the project would boost the economy and encourage sustainable nature-based tourism.
“The sensitive and high quality nature of the project fits exceptionally well with Victoria’s Tourism 2020 objectives of improving the positioning of Victoria as an outstanding nature-based destination, both within Australia and overseas,” he said.
Once the consultation period concludes this Friday, March 24, Parks Victoria will prepare a report to be submitted to the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio for consideration before a final decision is made.
The project has received a $650,000 grant from the Victorian round of the Federal Government’s Tourism Demand Driver Infrastructure program.
If successful in securing the necessary approvals from the government, the company aims to have cruises operating by the end of this year.
Three vessels would each be capable of taking 32 passengers on a two to three hour trip. Indicative costs range from $75 to $105 per child, $125 to $165 per adult, and from $390 to $540 for a family of two adults and three children.
The proposal includes a licence for boat storage and refuelling at the Parks Victoria depot and a lease for customer ticketing at the outdoor cinema site at Tidal River.
Pennicott Wilderness Journeys was contacted for comment.
Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=20861