Open for Business
The Great Western Tiers form the imposing northern edge of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Dramatic cliffs, majestic forests and abundant birdlife make the Tiers a unique and spectacular place like nowhere else, it is a unique region for tourism and recreation.
World Heritage listing and additional protection for high conservation value forests will boost the potential for nature based tourism in the Great Western Tiers.
This could be realised with support from the Forests Agreement funds for regional development projects.
The Great Western Tiers form the imposing northern edge of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Dramatic cliffs, majestic forests and abundant birdlife make the Tiers a unique and spectacular place like nowhere else.
Its walking tracks already attract local, interstate and international visitors. Fly fishing enthusiasts come from all over the world to fish in the pristine waters at the bottom of the slopes. Each year more cyclists choose the Tiers and its quiet road network as their destination of choice.
Nature-based tourism now represents a quarter of the Australian tourism industry and is no longer a niche product. With unique landscapes and experiences, Tasmania has great potential to grow nature-based tourism. As Tasmania’s annual tourist numbers approach 900,000 and income over 1.5 billion dollars  the time is right to build nature-based tourism and recreation in the State. A Great Western Tiers regional plan can boost the region and help it become a globally-recognised icon.
Development of nature-based tourism can provide real jobs in areas such as parks management, track development and maintenance, accommodation, hospitality, retail, local art and craft sales, transport and service provision.
With many locals using the Tiers for recreation, we believe that investing in visitor infrastructure would also support healthy lifestyle goals for local communities.
A new opportunity
The Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement means 2012 will be a year of transition with funding for regional development and new protection for forests such as those of the Great Western Tiers which have been identified by the Independent Verification Process on Tasmania’s forests as having World Heritage value see reports here. This provides a great opportunity for residents of the Meander Valley and Northern Midlands municipalities to discuss and advocate local tourism and recreation initiatives.
The Tasmanian Forests Agreement includes a $120 million, 15 year economic diversification package that can provide major investment in regional economies such as ours that have suffered a loss of jobs in the forest industry.
The package has four goals:
- to support and grow business in Tasmania;
- to maximise Tasmania’s economy in key sectors, including tourism;
- to improve the social and environmental sustainability of the economy; and,
- to grow and support communities within regions.
In addition, the Forests Agreement includes $7 million annual allocation towards the management of new reserves.
What we can do
The Friends of the Great Western Tiers believe this is a rare moment for communities in the Meander Valley and Northern Midlands to promote the potential to grow nature-based tourism. We would then seek the assistance of local government, businesses, land managers and the broader community to achieve this objective.
New investment in nature based tourism will promote our region’s iconic image and benefit existing and new businesses with increased visitor numbers and longer stays.
We need to prepare a sound business case. The best way is through a scoping and feasibility study of options for increasing the number of visitors and the duration of their stay in the Great Western Tiers.
As a first step, we recommend formally seeking funding for a scoping study and options report through the regional development package or other source. We have been advised that this study is likely to cost between $50 000 and $80 000 and would include:
- assessment of destination values and uniqueness of the region;
- audit of reserved lands and surrounding infrastructure as well as currently available tourism products;
- consideration of competition and market positioning;
- analysis of current and potential visitor and user profiles; and,
- assessment of the constraints and opportunities related to the local, state and national plans and policies.
A feasibility assessment could then be applied to promising tourism and infrastructure concepts identified by the scoping study and consultation process. This would provide an indication of the capital investment required for, and the recurrent income and expenditure and economic impacts of, each concept.