NORTH-EAST businesses have called on all political parties to commit to the construction of the North East Rail Trail in a bid to create at least 100 jobs, attract thousands of tourists and inject much-needed funds into the region.
It is hoped that the proposed trail, involving the re-development of 86 kilometres of disused rail corridor from Launceston to Scottsdale, would revitalise the townships of Karoola, Lalla, Lilydale, Tunnel, Lebrina, Nabowla and Legerwood.
A Northern Tasmania Development-commissioned economic benefit assessment of the trail shows that more than 23,000 people a year would use it each year.
Leaning Church Vineyard owner Sarah Hirst said that similar trails, such as the Otago Central Rail Trail in New Zealand and the Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail in Victoria, attracted up to 45,000 people a year and had created hundreds of jobs.
``This is exactly what we need in the north-east of Tasmania,'' she said.
``Thousands of people would be cycling and walking through our spectacular natural wilderness, sampling our local produce, meeting our crafty characters, staying in our unique B and Bs, exploring our internationally acclaimed attractions and telling the world that they must visit the north-east.
``We call on all Tasmanian political parties to recognise the incredible impact this rail trail would have on existing and new businesses, and commit to an initial one-off investment of $3.9 million to make it happen.''
Mrs Hirst said if the Rail Trail were constructed, she would re-open the vineyard all year round and employ at least another two people at the vineyard and a possible further five at Lilydale Larder.
Yondover Goat Cheese owner Gina Butler said she would employ at least three more people if the rail trail went ahead.
``This development offers a unique opportunity for small business to showcase their local premium products to tourists as they walk and cycle through the country where we produce our boutique goods,'' she said.
``We'd also be able to offer a more reliable tourism experience as it would be worth opening our farmgate and cafe all year round.
Other north-east businesses urging politicians to commit to the project include landscape architect Leon Lange, Plovers Ridge Country Retreat's Jeni Nunn and The Trig boutique eco accommodation's Gordon Cuff and Susie Aulich.