Under a striking blue sky, with people enjoying what is probably the last good dump of snow for the 2019 season, the prospect of Ben Lomond National Park as a tourism destination seems bright.
However, the fire that destroyed Ben Lomond Alpine Hotel in 2018 and under-development of the site has put a cloud over the mountain.
In its 1998 management plan for Ben Lomond, the Parks and Wildlife Service highlighted the need to "encourage and facilitate research, study, and monitoring... [to] assist management of the park and its use for tourism and recreation".
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This view was supported by Northern Midlands Council in November 2015, when it accepted the feasibility report by TRC Tourism that showed "the skifield will provide a major tourism and recreational product of state significance, capable of generating new and complementary tourism investment in Northern Tasmania and contributing to the economic growth of the wider region".
The council's in-principle support did not lead to any significant development though, and Ben Lomond Committee president Berni Einoder is trying to build momentum again.
Ben Lomond Committee represents all stakeholders on the mountain, including private and business interests.
...the facilities are still primitive and need a major investment.Dr Berni Einoder
Dr Einoder has conducted extensive research into the mountain's history, discovering it is one of Australia's oldest mountains and has been used as a winter playground for Northern Tasmanians since the 1920s.
"This will be my fourth attempt to get something going," Dr Einoder said.
"The interest in the Ben Lomond plateau and mountain has grown enormously. We frequently have more than 1000 people in the area."
Despite this interest, "the facilities are still primitive and need major investment," he said.
Dr Einoder has called on Ben Lomond stakeholders and all levels of government to "increase our tourist attractions and encourage the visitors to spend more time" in the state's North, with the mountain as a major drawcard.
A Parks and Wildlife Service spokesperson said Ben Lomond might not yet be considered a summer destination, but the flora and fauna was rich during warmer months and work had been done to encourage year-round visitation.
"The Parks and Wildlife Service has recently completed upgrades to sections of the Summit Link Track to improve visitor access and safety in time for summer," the spokesperson said.
"Further, the new visitors' car park is now complete at the base of the mountain below Jacob's Ladder, which provides capacity for around 90 vehicles."
- The second part of this feature on Ben Lomond's future will be published on Wednesday.
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