A FIVE-STAR resort and convention centre at Peterborough has been suggested as part of a push to spread tourism dispersal for south-west towns in the Great Ocean Road precinct.
The town could be promoted as a “St Andrews of the south” — a golfing destination linked with visits to other coastal courses at Port Fairy, Robe, King Island and Barnbougle in Tasmania — under one of the suggested scenarios for a Shipwreck Coast masterplan.
Parks Victoria, Corangamite Shire and Moyne Shire councils instigated discussions early last year with consultants appointed to steer the process.
Next month a draft plan using suggestions from the community and consultants will be presented for further comment before a refined version is compiled and unveiled for final submissions later in the year.
The end result will be used as a blueprint in future years to balance managing a fragile environment with expanding tourism and economic development.
Towns would be better promoted in links with national parks and visitors encouraged to enjoy attractions away from the coast and stay in the region longer. New routes drawing visitors into the hinterland and parks, monthly people’s days and investment projects with “real potential” are also proposed.
Peterborough would be regarded as a relaxed family-friendly town for boating, fishing and weekend holidays as the western entry to the coastal parks while Princetown would be the eastern entry. Princetown would be promoted as a “river and walking town” at the junction of the Great Ocean Walk and Twelve Apostles Trail as well as eco-adventure, mountain bike facilities and bush tucker picnics.
Port Campbell would be described as the “heart of the coast” and main entry to the parks and marine sanctuary.
Another proposal is to tailor visitor information to specific sites and themes including marine ecology, geology, ecology, history, farming and indigenous culture.
The draft concepts discussion paper says “a staged approach is proposed to explore the transformation of the experience of the Shipwreck Coast from being a thoroughfare to a destination”.
“To begin to repair and heal this fragile natural landscape and to strengthen the character of the local townships and their relationships to the parks while also increasing economic return and benefits from tourism requires a contract between conservation, the towns and tourism,” the paper states.
The discussion paper says there about 1.73 million overnight visitors to the Great Ocean Road coastline yet only 24 per cent of domestic overnight tourists and only 18 per cent of internationals stay in the Shipwreck Coast area.
One of the suggested ways of boosting patronage is for accommodation and visitor services to be “absolute world class”.