A GRAND vision to put almost $500 million of tourism investment along the Great Ocean Road has a clear focus on enhancing the south-west as an international drawcard.
Priority projects include a $100 million Loch Ard interpretive centre near Port Campbell, $54m heritage landscape investment at Lake Condah, $50m upgrade of the iconic road and $35m high-class resort at Port Campbell.
Other key projects are a $200m convention and exhibition centre at Geelong, $20m luxury lodge resort at Moonlight Head, $15m upgrade of Avalon Airport and $10m improvement to the Great Ocean Walk.
The destination management plan from Regional Development Australia was released yesterday by the state government.
It points out untapped potential to boost nature-based tourism, food and wine products and heritage from Geelong through to Portland.
It says infrastructure will need to be upgraded to handle a predicted additional 2.4 million visitors a year to the region with an extra 3440 additional commercial guest rooms required by 2030.
The Princes Highway, harbours, marinas and jetties, parks and public transport will also need upgrades.
Tourism Minister Louise Asher said with this year marking the coast road’s 80th anniversary it was fitting to reflect on its unique natural environment as well as its enormous investment potential.
“New tourism infrastructure, attractions and accommodation will ensure the Great Ocean Road remains a compelling destination,” she said.
The report, prepared by consultants Urban Enterprises, will form the basis of future investment guidelines. It follows a recent controversial report prepared by Corangamite Shire Council also looking at tourism investment potential.
For Warrnambool, the new report recommends continuous improvements at Flagstaff Hill, upgrading the airport to support passenger jets, improving the harbour and attracting world-class exhibitions to the art gallery.
It also suggests better diving opportunities off the coast including the potential sinking of a wreck off Warrnambool or Port Fairy and linking maritime themes of Flagstaff Hill and the proposed Loch Ard centre. New trains and more passenger services are also recommended.
urther west at Lake Condah it says there should be nature-based accommodation, international learning centres, reinstatement of eel trapping and stone hut structures and other projects to enhance heritage tourism.
Besides the Loch Ard centre and international resort flagged for Port Campbell the report also suggests a trail link to Timboon, redevelopment of Glenample Homestead, boat cruises to the Twelve Apostles, kayak tours, food tours and farm experiences.