Warning on parks proposal

TASMANIA'S national parks have been opened for development, but the government has been warned that   it needs to more carefully target infrastructure spending to make the plan work.

Premier Will Hodgman and Parks and Heritage Minister Matthew Groom said   yesterday that they wanted Tasmania to be the ``environment tourism capital of the world''.

The government is calling for expressions of interest for investors and tourism operators with ideas for ``sensible and appropriate''  tourism developments in national parks and World Heritage areas.

Under the plan, expressions would be sought for five months with a panel deciding which projects should go to a second stage.

Selected participants would then present more detail, with a final decision early next year.

The ministers  said projects would be assessed on the appropriateness for the site, qualifications of the proponent and ability to get finance.

Tourism Northern Tasmania chief executive Chris Griffin said the idea was a good one, especially because Tasmania was known as an eco-destination.

But he said the state had too many tracks and other infrastructure in its parks to keep them all in good condition. So he urged the state government to do a nature-based audit to prioritise spending to the most necessary and useful infrastructure.

Mr Groom said track maintenance was an operational issue for the Parks and Wildlife Service, but it was  important that there were appropriate facilities and infrastructure in national parks.

Launceston Chamber of Commerce executive officer Maree Tetlow also welcomed the idea, saying sustainable developments would be good for the state.

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