The Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service will proceed with plans to reconstruct a public shelter on Ben Lomond, following news the hotel also destroyed by fire last year would not be rebuilt by its owners, though key stakeholders are hoping this could mark a new era for the popular destination.
Allan and Megan Lourie - owners of the Ben Lomond Alpine Hotel for the past five years - announced the "regrettable" decision they would not be rebuilding this week, after "much consultation" with PWS.
A temporary licence was issued for a kiosk over the 2018 ski season while the Louries discussed future plans.
According to a Parks spokesperson, plans to rebuild the shelter hinged on that decision to rebuild or vacate the lease. Now able to move forward, discussions are underway to deliver food and beverage service providers for the upcoming ski season.
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But the vision of many for the site includes more than simply a reconstructed public shelter.
At their last meeting, Ben Lomond Committee president Tony Gray said the group - made up of the village's ski clubs and operators - had come to agreement that an integrated facility to both replace those damaged in last year's fire and gather the other services would be the best outcome.
"We think that if you had a nice area there ... a public shelter and the toilet, there were meals available, you could purchase your [lift] tickets ... it would be ideal," Mr Gray said. "Bringing everything in close together" would provide benefits in both heating and amenity, he added.
However leases on Crown land aren't available for more than 10 years, which would mean any new private development would be "unlikely".
"[The] only viable option there is a facility built by the government - through PWS," Mr Gray said.
The sentiment was echoed by the Louries in their statement this week, describing a "purpose-built facility" to provide information, food, beverages, shelter, seating and ticketing as the desired outcome for many on the mountain.
"That's certainly something we would advocate for, something we have always been advocating for," said Tourism Northern Tasmania chief executive Chris Griffin. Though the fire had been a "disaster", it also provided an opportunity that "doesn't come along too often".
A 2015 feasibility study commissioned by stakeholders and state and local government cited a sole operator and service provider, along with long-term leases, as characteristics of the few "viable" small ski areas like Ben Lomond remaining in Australia.
The PWS spokesperson said: "Key stakeholders represented by the Ben Lomond Committee, and the three commercial operators on Ben Lomond will be pivotal to informing future plans for a replacement facility at the park."
The committee will meet next in May.
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