Need for councils to work together on Great Ocean Road solution

Happy snap: Tourists photographing the Twelve Apostles in April. They might have to pay for the opportunity in future under an MP's plan. Picture: Amy Paton
Happy snap: Tourists photographing the Twelve Apostles in April. They might have to pay for the opportunity in future under an MP's plan. Picture: Amy Paton

Great Ocean Road region mayors say they are open to a proposal to use a parking permit scheme to manage the millions of tourists who visit each year.

Polwarth MP Richard Riordan proposed a parking permit policy set up by the Corangamite, Colac Otway and Surf Coast shires that would allow better infrastructure to be set up while ensuring funds stay in the region.

The MP said a permit system would mean visitors to the region would pay for the use of facilities, and result in a better tourism experience.

Corangamite Shire mayor Jo Beard said she looked forward to hearing more about the proposal – which she described as promising – but would need more details.

“Any way of having revenue remaining in our region to then reinvest into the visitor experience would be a good outcome,” Cr Beard said.

“In the past it has been recognised there is potential to raise some revenue, whether that be through car parking, entry fees or even expenses at certain location."

Cr Beard said the Shipwreck Coast Masterplan was part of the solution, and it was important for councils to work together.

“Ultimately our region and our councils need to be able to somehow benefit from the visitors coming to our region, and (make sure) all the money isn’t just absorbed straight back into state government,” she said.

Colac Otway Shire mayor Chris Potter said he welcomed discussion and proposals in relation the Great Ocean Road issues, and was willing to work with other councils.

“Before we can charge buses to park, we’ve have to have somewhere for them to park,” Cr Potter said.

“Colac Otway Shire has budgeted to undertake a bus parking strategy for our part of the Great Ocean Road. We’re seeking matching funding from the federal government. In lots of cities across the world, people have to pay to see the attractions. Maybe it’s time we seriously thought about that.”

Surf Coast Shire mayor Brian McKiterick said he would be keen to investigate the process and understand the “nuts and bolts” of a permit scheme, including implementation and possible flow-on effects.

“The shire welcomes those ideas, but we’re mindful of getting a structure around it to ensure that it’s workable,” Cr McKiterick said.