Prom potential

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Prom potential

ACCOMMODATION opportunities at Wilsons Promontory National Park could be increased, after the State Government passed the National Parks Amendment Bill 2013 recently.
The bill will allow private sector investment in appropriate tourism infrastructure in national parks and will extend the lease period for national park land up to 99 years.
Development would be governed by stringent guidelines.
South Gippsland Shire Council economic development coordinator Ken Fraser said council has no position on development inside the park.
“We have been very supportive of development outside the park. We are keen on development in tourism, but without any firm proposals it is difficult to comment,” he said.
Mr Fraser said while council is keen to see development, at the same time it must preserve the reasons people visit for.
“The natural environment is a big tourist drawcard so really we just have to look at everything on its merits,” he said.
Terry Robinson, CEO of Destination Gippsland, said concerns were hypothetical until there was a development proposed.
“We support appropriate development at Wilsons Promontory. There is already commercial development in the park,” he said.
Mr Robinson said development needs to meet the guidelines set out by the government and be sensitive to the environment.
“We know a place like the Prom is popular, but it is limited by the quality and range of accommodation on offer,” he said.
“We have to compete with Tasmania and New Zealand and we need to be able to compete on a level playing field, so the benefits can flow on to the surrounding areas.”
Mr Robinson said people often jump to the worst case scenario when they hear about legislation allowing development in sensitive areas.
“This isn’t about high rises; it is clearly about low impact, environmentally sensitive design. There are already buildings at Tidal River so this is about potentially improving them rather than building high rises in pristine areas,” he said.
“Obtrusive development would be counterproductive for tourism.”
Mr Robinson said development in the national park could improve off peak visits.
“It would appeal to international markets and those from big cities who have money to spend and want to explore. If they have a good base at the Prom they will be more likely to stay longer and visit other attractions in the area,” he said.
“There is a lot to be gained for the main stream businesses as well as tourism businesses.”
Member for Eastern Victoria Philip Davis has rejected claims the amendment to the National Parks Act would see a rush on large scale development in national parks.
“This is enabling legislation that will ensure any lease granted reflects the government’s commitment to sensible and sensitive investments under the National Parks Act,” he said.
“The legislation also specifies areas of high biodiversity where leases will not be granted. The huts will be unobtrusive, ecologically sensitive and most carefully positioned and managed.”

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Posted by on Sep 3 2013. 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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