TASMANIA'S world-renowned Woolmers Estate may be forced to suspend operations due to a funding shortfall.
The historic site, established as a major rural residence in 1817 and World Heritage listed in 2010, has been threatened by closure because of falling visitor numbers and insecure funding.
In a Northern Midlands Council agenda document last month, Woolmers Foundation chairman and former Hydro chairman Peter Rae said that the estate had gone from breaking even to trading at a loss, with visitor numbers down 20 per cent on three years ago.
The estate's operators decided as of June 1 to shut down on weekends and public holidays, apart from those booking accommodation, because it didn't have enough funds to cover wage costs.
The Woolmers Foundation has sought financial assistance from the public and private sector. However, after a month the foundation has not received any response.
The estate has recently submitted a building application to the Northern Midlands and Heritage councils for a $3.3 million interpretation and visitor centre.
The centre is expected to draw more people to the site and significantly increase its revenue.
The visitor centre has received conditional support from a mainland sponsor, who is yet to be named, but he will only give money if the project is jointly financially supported by the government.
Mr Rae said that in winning World Heritage status for the estate, the government had taken responsibility for maintaining it.
``When a government nominates a site to UNESCO and it is accepted as a World Heritage site, they also have a responsibility to UNESCO of maintaining that site,'' Mr Rae said.
A state government spokesman said that it was understood Woolmers had approached the federal government for funding assistance.
``The minister (Brian Wightman) values Woolmers' rich heritage, and has recently discussed its financial position with the operators,'' he said.
``It's Heritage Tasmania's responsibility to assess and make a recommendation on funding applications.''
The spokesman said that Heritage Tasmania hadn't been apporached for support at this point, but is was aware of Woolmers operators' concerns.
The government has provided financial assistance for the site in the past for renovation works and preservation, including a $600,000 bridge below the site.