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Major project to transform tourism in Kosciusko National Park
A $27 million plan to transform Kosciusko National Park into a leading tourism and recreation destination will see 46 kilometres of new walking and cycle trails developed at within its boundaries.
Under the newly announced plans, the NSW Government aims for the Park to be transformed into an "alpine tourism hub", with the development of a multi-day walk traversing the Thredbo River, Lake Crackenback and Charlotte Pass. The plan also envisages the creation of scenic bike tracks, backcountry camping facilities and a luxury ecotourism lodge.
NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said the says the investment will create one of Australia’s best multi-day walking tracks and will totally transform summer tourism in the Snowy Mountains, advising “this means people won’t just have jobs for the three months of winter, they’ll have work for 12 months of the year, thanks to a steady stream of visitors, mountain bikers, and walkers.”
Work on the trails, which is expected to start in October this year, is forecast to create 139 full-time jobs in the region over the course of construction.
When operational, Deputy Premier Barilaro adds “once delivered, the upgraded National Park is expected to support an additional 190 full-time positions.
“And by linking all these trails, Kosciuszko National Park will, for the first time, be able to host long-distance mountain biking tournaments, and will maximise the opportunities for the region to tap into the growing summer mountain biking market.”
According to Peter Cochran, spokesperson for Snowy Mountains Tourism Australia, the development will help to address the seasonal variation in revenue growth and job stability in the area.
Cochran explains “the fact is there has been a trough in revenue during the summer and this announcement by the Deputy Premier certainly will provide the necessaries in terms of infrastructure development.
“We see it as a massive boost for tourism in the summer.”
Cochran said the number of jobs created is likely to surpass the NSW Government’s estimates, stating “it will be way exceeded by the multiplier effect that flows down through various enterprises.”
He suggests that this will also include new jobs within the Snowy Monaro Regional Council, adding “the council’s support is absolutely vital, therefore creating more job opportunities within council as well as opportunities for them to expand their facilities.”
The initiative will be split into two projects – with more than $17 million to be invested in the Kosciuszko Snowies Iconic Walk – developing a new 25-kilometre section of track, which will ultimately link up with other tracks to create a world-class 44-kilometre multi-day walk.
Mick Pettitt, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Southern Ranges Director explains “when complete, this iconic walk will allow visitors to hike all the way from Thredbo, via Charlotte Pass, Guthega, and Perisher, to Lake Crackenback.
“The new section of track from Charlotte Pass to Lake Crackenback will link existing trails across the alpine ‘roof of Australia’, with visitors able to stay in luxury resorts or backcountry camping facilities along the way.”
A further $9.8 million will see the popular Thredbo Valley Track extended by 21 kilometres, to be constructed using International Mountain Bike Association Guidelines, with Pettitt adding “once complete, the Thredbo Valley Track will be more than 61 kilometres long, allowing for hiking and mountain biking all the way from Dead Horse Gap to Jindabyne.”
The first stage of the Thredbo Valley Track extension will connect Lake Crackenback to trails in and around Jindabyne. The second stage will connect Thredbo to the Dead Horse Gap area, and the existing trail network that continues on into the Pilot Wilderness.
Decentralising tourism and attracting visitors to regional areas in NSW also has huge environmental benefits, according to Peter Cochran, who advises “one of the greatest benefits of developing tourism within sensitive environmental areas such as Kosciusko National Park is that it exposes city people to the natural environment and encourages them to better manage the environment.”
Research earlier this year by Tourism Research Australia revealed that overnight visitation to the Snowy Mountains region has grown by a further 12.2% - an additional 81,000 visitors, with these visitors estimated to have spent $427 million, making tourism a key part of the region’s revenue.
Local tour operator, Acacia Rose of K7 Adventures has welcomed the news, commenting “there will be nothing more beautiful then cycling and walking down these tracks with spring birds and wildflowers, and the spring snowmelt flowing into the Thredbo River.
“And the new walking trail from Charlotte Pass that is a very old route along the escarpment that is almost wilderness country, it will be a unique experience.”
Rose is confident any environmental factors will be well managed both during and after construction, explaining “so far, engineering of the existing trails has really been good, (as well as) the ongoing maintenance.
“There is a very dedicated group of local mountain bikers that go in there with the National Parks and Wildlife Service and look after it.
“Managing water running off the tracks is paramount and National Parks are really on to it and they’ll close a track if it’s too boggy and too wet to protect the environment.”
Rose makes the point that having dedicated walking and bike tracks will help protect the fragile environment, adding “keeping people on the track is the key thing in the alpine area and people will be able to go point to point staying on the track and overnighting at the major resort areas along the way.”
While congratulating the NSW Government on this investment, Rose has raised concerns about the ongoing stewardship of Australia’s rooftop in light of recent restructuring within the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
She concludes “thank you to the (NSW) Government for engineered walking and mountain biking trails but we have seen a dumbing down of the Parks Service.
“It can’t be overstated how important it is to have scientific and technical people working in the National Park to protect the catchment, to do ongoing research,” she says.
“If you want to have tourism you have to protect the natural resource, please pay rangers and scientists properly.”
Work on the Thredbo Valley Track extension is to be completed in 2019, while the Snowies Iconic Walk will be delivered in stages over a four-year period with final completion in 2022.
Images: The current Summit Walk at Australasia's highest point - Mount Kosciusko (top and middle) and mountain bike adventures out of Thredbo (below).
23rd November 2017 - WORLD SKI AWARDS WIN CONFIRMS THREDBO AS AUSTRALIA’S BEST SKI RESORT
19th October 2017 - NSW NATIONAL PARKS’ 50TH ANNIVERSARY OVERSHADOWED BY POTENTIAL STAFFING CUTS
5th August 2017 - CLIMATE TO INCREASINGLY IMPACT AUSTRALIA’S SKI INDUSTRY
8th October 2015 - MORE THAN 39 MILLION VISITS TO NSW NATIONAL PARKS AND RESERVES IN 2014
23rd July 2015 - ECOTOURISM AUSTRALIA’S ECO CERTIFICATION GAINS GLOBAL APPROVAL
12th June 2014 - NSW GOVERNMENT TO BACK RAIL TRAILS
15th May 2009 - PERISHER VILLAGE PLAN GETS GO-AHEAD
30th October 2008 - STRONG WINTER FOR ALPINE TOURISM
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