THE Tasmanian Government has received 37 expressions of interest from investors and tourism operators to develop new tourism infrastructure in the state's National Parks and World Heritage Area, with at least 24 of these proposals recommended for progression to the next stage of the process.
As part of a plan to transform Tasmania into the 'environmental tourism capital of the world', the State Government called for expressions of interest between June and November last year. All submissions received are subject to a two-stage assessment process.
"We want to give more Tasmanians and visitors the opportunity to experience our unique, world class wilderness areas. That is why we initiated the Expressions of Interest process for sensitive and appropriate tourism offerings in our National Parks and the World Heritage Area," Mr Groom said.
An assessment panel has completed its assessment and provided the Minister with their recommendations on which proposals should proceed through to Stage 2. In total, 24 of the 37 proposals have been recommended for progression to the second stage (with the potential for two more pending the provision of further information from the participants).
The panel's assessment involved a consideration of the proposals against a number of criteria, including:
- The appropriateness of the proposal to a particular site;
- The qualifications of the proponent to establish and operate the proposal; and
- The ability of the proponent to finance the proposal.
The Minister will now review each submission and accept or reject the panel's recommendation. This process is expected to be finalised by no later than 13 March 2015.
EOI participants who are approved to proceed to Stage 2 will then be asked to submit a more detailed proposal for further consideration. Any proposal that is agreed to proceed will then need to go through all normal Commonwealth and State planning and approval processes.
"The Government is absolutely committed to being open and transparent about the EOI process, while respecting the confidentiality requirements which protect participants' intellectual property and also operating in accordance with probity guidelines," Mr Groom said.
"An overview of those projects that are approved to proceed through to Stage 2 will be made public as soon as possible after the decision for the proposal to proceed has been made. This information will be made public on the Coordinator General's website."
The assessment panel consisted of the following members: Coordinator General, Mr John Perry; the Secretary of DPIPWE, Dr John Whittington; the CEO of Tourism Tasmania, Mr John Fitzgerald; the Chair of the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Committee, Mr Malcolm Wells; and an independent member, Mr Rohan Boman.