Mountain funding call

MINIMAL investment atop Ben Lomond would reap maximum tourism benefits, according to the head of the mountain's business authority. 

Ben Lomond Committee president Tony Gray said the stakeholder agenda for 2014 included a push for upgraded walking tracks, better signage and a lookout to draw more visitors both in and out of snow season. 

Mr Gray, who was elected to the role in February, said the committee would pursue government grants, as well as encourage mountain businesses and operators to join forces to invest in upgrades. 

``On a relatively low infrastructure spend, say, $1 million, you could see a marked increase to visitors to Ben Lomond year-round,'' he said. 

``Rock removal, slope grooming, walking tracks and signage would make a huge difference to that mountain. 

``From the car park you're less than an hour's walk from the second-highest peak in Tasmania. Put a viewing platform there and you're giving people even more of a reason to make the drive.'' 

Mr Gray said a bumper snowfall in 2013 saw up to 2000 people a day on the slopes, with many travelling to Tasmania specifically to go to Ben Lomond. 

``We had people from Singapore, from Queensland - people want easy access to slopes without having to go through resorts.''

However, Mr Gray said the 2013 visitor survey confirmed discontent over the regularity of the Alpine Enterprise ski lifts.

``There was a bit of disaffection there, but we've had a lot of discussion, and there's no reason to believe we won't have a reliable service in 2014.''

Alpine Enterprise owner Eryl Williams said dangerous weather conditions had hindered lift operations, while he had battled illness himself during the winter. 

``We had unprecedented winds - especially in August - and a lot of people thought they knew better than us,'' Mr Williams said.

``At the end of the day, we are liable for people's safety, and we were not going to put anyone at risk.'' 


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