A chance encounter at a football engagement may have been the cherry on top of an election promise to invest into Ben Lomond.
Former Northern Tasmanian Alpine Club president and Ben Lomond committee president professor Berni Einoder believes bumping into Premier Peter Gutwein at the event confirmed a Tasmanian liberal commitment to the picturesque granite plateau.
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In reality, the commitment came after over 30 years of lobbying and hard work from Professor Einoder and a number of others with a vested interest in capturing the tourism potential of Ben Lomond.
"We talked him into it," Professor Einoder said.
"We were not going to take no for an answer."
We were not going to take no for an answer.Professor Berni Einoder
After countless letdowns about the viability of investment in Ben Lomond, the 2021 election finally provided some security for the future.
The "year-round destination" line, was exactly what Professor Einoder and co had been pitching for decades.
"Ben Lomond is not just a ski resort, it is an all year round mountain experience," he said.
"It's a great place all year round to visit."
Professor Einoder had long promoted the promise of Ben Lomond. Referencing Kevin Costner's famous 1989 film Field of Dreams, Professor Eionoder said investing on the plateau would amount to the adage, "build it and they will come".
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As his lobbying to government stretched into its third decade, Professor Einoder retired, giving him to opportunity to sink his teeth into making sure Ben Lomond could secure its future.
In August 2019, Professor Einoder and fellow Ben Lomond enthusiast David Annear headed into then Environment, Parks and Heritage minster Mr Gutwein's office.
He was prepared and had a USB loaded with photographs illustrating Ben Lomond's potential alongside a narrative perfected over 30 years of passion for the plateau.
"We went to see Peter Gutwein in his office in Launceston and he was kind enough to listen to our powerpoint presentation," he said.
"We talked him into going up to the top of Ben Lomond.
When [Peter Gutwein] got up [to the top of Ben Lomond] he looked around and said 'how come nothing's being done up here?'.Professor Berni Einoder
Professor Einoder hailed Mr Gutwein for taking the opportunity to actually make the trek to Ben Lomond, something he said previous minsters had not done.
Professor Einoder and Mr Gutwein's chance encounter at the football engagement came a year and a half after the trek to the top, and shortly after the election announcement was made public, signalling the end of the Professor Einoder's journey to get government to consider the year round tourism potential of Ben Lomond.
The government's grand plan for the almost $3 million is clearly the first step along what could be a long process to developing the popular skiing destination.
It involves conducting a feasibility assessment about whether snow can be made on the ski field as a means of extending the snow conditions, undertaking a strategic site plan to "identify priority infrastructure" and developing a new management plan.
Work on the plans outlined in the announcement are set to begin sometime between now and next year and are due for completion in 2025-2026.
Professor Einoder said he was looking forward to the plans, and is keen to be a part of the process.
Importantly, however, the longtime Ben Lomond advocate said the promise from the government opened the door for seeding funding and a glut of private investment, given the certainty it represents.
"To start, you need this certainty in government policy," he said.
"This is the kind of thing that gets people on board."
Until now, most investment at the top of Ben Lomond has been private. All ski lifts are privately funded and installed, the snow sports store is private, short-term accommodation is private and the snow machines are private.
Aside from the road including Jacob's Ladder, the plateau has relied mostly on that private investment to maintain any semblance of being a significant tourist destination.
Alongside the financial investment, private enterprises involved at Ben Lomond have dedicated years of their time to pitching the plateau's future to every government since the 1980's.
That involved two feasibility studies - a private one in 2005 and a government funded one in 2015 - that simultaneously preached the potential tourism demand that could be captured over every month fo the year and espoused the inevitability that private investment would only get so far.
Now the 30 year pitch is finished, Professor Einoder's attention has turned to ensuring the hard work does not become undone.
"I expect that [the government] is going to do what they said they are going to do with Ben Lomond," he said.
A spokesperson for the government said the process for announcing the funding came after continued dialogue with a range of stakeholders.
"We have listened closely to a range of stakeholders who share our commitment to invest in Ben Lomond and make it a year-round destination," they said.
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