TASMANIAN Environment, Parks and Heritage Minister Matthew Groom last week announced that six more proposals have been invited to proceed to the second stage of the government's Expressions of Interest process for sensitive and appropriate tourism offerings in National Parks and the World Heritage Area.
The EOI process is part of a plan to transform Tasmania into the environmental tourism capital of the world and help reach a target of 1.5 million visitors a year by 2020. In addition to the six announced last week, the Minister has already approved 15 projects to be assessed under the second stage of the assessment process.
A total of 37 proposals were received in response to the EOI and an assessment panel recommended that at least 24 proposals proceed to the second stage.
"There are four more projects still to be considered for Stage 1 assessment and I remain committed to completing this process by no later than 13 March," Mr Groom said. "It is extremely important to note that proceeding to Stage 2 does not amount to a final approval for a proposal."
Stage 2 involves a more rigorous assessment of each proposal. For successful proposals, negotiations will then be entered into for appropriate lease or licence arrangements. Successful proponents will also be required to obtain all other necessary statutory approvals as required under existing State and Commonwealth law.
"The tens of millions in investment and the hundreds of jobs which will be created through this process is a vote of confidence in Tasmania's eco-tourism potential which is only now beginning to be fully realised because of the Government's open for business approach," the Minister said.
"We believe the vast majority of Tasmanians want the State to be open to new, world class tourism experiences in our wilderness areas provided they can be undertaken in a way that respects the cultural and natural values that make these areas so special. That is exactly what the Government is committed to achieving."
The six new projects invited to proceed to stage 2 are:
- Cape Sorell Cabins – a proposal to develop new accommodation just south of the historic Cape Sorell Lighthouse off Macquarie Harbour with the building of two simple-form cabins and the installation of two jetties in Macquarie Harbour.
- Freycinet Lodge extension – a sensitive development at the Freycinet Lodge on Tasmania's east coast in a form very similar to the existing facilities. The development will include 12 powered sites for motor homes with private ensuite facilities and an additional 12 cabins to meet increased demand.
- Heli-canyoning at Cradle Mountain – a new heli-canyoning tour in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Visitors would fly by helicopter from the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre to the top of a river in the vicinity of Cradle Mountain. They would then spend the day negotiating the canyon, by means of walking, swimming, jumping and abseiling, with two experienced and qualified guides.
- RiverFly 1864, Hall's Island, Lake Malbena – development of a luxury standing camp on Halls Island, Lake Malbena.
- Point Assist, Project Point Adventure – the proposed activity will see tourists participating in a remote transit of World Heritage forest environments to the north of the Huon River and engaging in educational, cultural and environmental opportunities.
- Mt Paul – Freycinet Eco Retreat walk – development of a unique, one day 12km circular walk starting and finishing at Mt Paul, via two existing fire trails within the Freycinet National Park.