A TOURISM proposal to establish five “puffer pods” on the Overland Track for up to eight months of the year has passed a state government panel – the third development that includes the Walls of Jerusalem National Park to do so.
The plans developed by World Expeditions Travel Group will now undergo a Reserve Activity Assessment through Parks and Wildlife before seeking Commonwealth, state and council approval.
The puffer pods would be made of down inner fabric and would have capacity to seat 14 people, to be positioned next to Parks and Wildlife campsites.
Five would be on the Overland Track, and one in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park.
They would remain throughout the peak tourism season and be demounted for winter “to allow for the ground to regenerate”.
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World Expeditions chief executive officer Sue Badyari said the pods were “stylish, communal cold weather tents” that would reduce the weight carried by trekkers from 18 kilograms to 10 kilograms.
“Reducing the amount trekkers have to carry is key to making the trails more accessible to a wider walking market,” she said.
It passed a state government panel this week, which is assessing close to 30 proposals – the majority in national parks and the World Heritage Area – developed during an expressions of interest process.
Premier Will Hodgman said national parks and reserves were “one of the key drivers of growth in our visitor economy”.
A proposal for four huts on Halls Island in Lake Malbena with helicopter access will go before Central Highlands Council later this month. Another proposal in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park involves luxury huts with an eco-lodge on nearby private property.
Wilderness Society Tasmania campaign manager Vica Bayley said they would continue to oppose the “privatisation of public parks”.
He said the state government process was “murky”.
“No one knows what’s being assessed. No one knows what they’re being assessed against. No one gets to see the assessment documents,” Mr Bayley said.
“It’s all secret, it all pre-empts a tourism master plan that the UNESCO World Heritage Committee has been requesting since 2015.”