28/06/2005 - 22:00

Iconic sites on fast track

28/06/2005 - 22:00

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Highlighting a renewed enthusiasm for the tourism industry, the State Government last week announced that up to 60 priority tourism sites across the state would be fast-tracked for development.

Iconic sites on fast track

Highlighting a renewed enthusiasm for the tourism industry, the State Government last week announced that up to 60 priority tourism sites across the state would be fast-tracked for development.

Premier Geoff Gallop made the announcement in front of 1,200 delegates at the largest tourism sales event in the Southern Hemisphere, the Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE).

“My Government wants more tourism accommodation, ranging from caravan parks to wilderness retreats and luxury hotels, to meet growing demand from interstate and overseas tourists,” Dr Gallop said.

“Investors are put off by red tape and complicated procedures for gaining clearance to develop sites – the Government will establish a ‘Landbank’ of sites that will be marketed to investors.”

He said there was a real desire for eco-lodge-style accommodation in or near iconic locations including Purnululu National Park, Mitchell River Falls, Burrup Peninsula/ Dampier Archipelago, Cape Range National Park/Ningaloo and Kalbarri National Park.

“Landbank will release a total of 20 strategic sites over the next five years to developers within Australia and around the world to ensure we get capital and expertise competing for the right to invest in our key locations,” Dr Gallop said.

While the tourism industry has commended the move, some criticism has come from local government and environmental groups.

Tourism Council of Western Australia president Ron Buckey said fast-tracking of key tourism sites was a real positive for the state and would encourage investors.

“This is a fantastic idea and we are not asking for approvals to be rubber stamped, but we need land banks available without having to go through all the red tape to get approvals, which can take years,” Mr Buckey said.

In marked contrast to the council’s view of the Government’s efforts just six months ago, Mr Buckey commended the recent work of Tourism Minister Mark McGowan.

Australia’s Coral Coast chairman, and principal of Icon Tourism, Manny Papadoulis, said the Government’s initiative was a great thing for industry and would help eradicate the perception that WA was a place in which it that was difficult to secure approval for tourism developments.

“If the Government can highlight areas that need infrastructure and investment, then pre approvals can be put into place to ensure these developments happen in the right places,” Mr Papadoulis said.

He said the recent ATE performed beyond expectations and that overseas buyers were impressed by the Government’s commitment to the tourism industry.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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