Calls to start $4.4m West Coast rollout

Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania chief executive Luke Martin
Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania chief executive Luke Martin

TASMANIA'S peak tourism body has called on the federal government to start rolling out a $4.4 million innovation fund to spark economic activity on the state's West Coast.

The money is set aside in the federal budget for this and the next financial years under a Regional Tourism Infrastructure and Innovation Fund.

It is a legacy of the Tasmanian Jobs Package attached to the Forest Agreement, and is designed to boost tourism in regional towns recovering from a downturn in the forestry industry.

Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania chief executive Luke Martin said the funding would be a welcome injection in a region left devastated by the recent collapse of two mining giants.

Mr Martin rejected an alternative idea to divert a government grant destined for Cadbury to the state's West Coast, saying the innovation fund could be drawn from without compromising initiatives planned elsewhere in the state.

Mr Martin said the $4.4 million could contribute to projects that could be rolled out over the next three to six months.

He said the money could kick- start projects such as Wi-Fi hot spots and mountain biking or walking tracks, or serve to encourage private investment in new visitor experiences.

"It was always front-and-centre that the West Coast was an area in need of expanded tourism infrastructure and experiences and over the past week that need has become heightened," Mr Martin said.

"There are a stack of strategic ideas and projects sitting there that could be supported.

As soon as they make this money available, it will stimulate the region," he said.

Braddon Liberal MHR Brett Whiteley said money for projects covered by the fund would be provided over the next two financial years.

"The last thing Queenstown and the West Coast needs is for money to be rushed through with nothing to show for it," Mr Whiteley said.

"I am committed to working with the state government and the West Coast Council to ensure the community receives the support it needs, now and in the medium and long term," he said.

A state government spokeswoman said it was working with its federal counterparts to deliver the funding as soon as possible.


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