New model needed for tourist icon, Corangamite councillor Bev McArthur says

User pays: One single management body and a user-pays system has been suggested to help improve infrastructure at the Twelve Apostles.
User pays: One single management body and a user-pays system has been suggested to help improve infrastructure at the Twelve Apostles.

A new management model is needed to help improve infrastructure at the Twelve Apostles and Great Ocean Road region, a south-west councillor says.

Corangamite Shire councillor Bev McArthur said one management body, similar to the Great Barrier Reef Authority, should be introduced to replace the government departments and other organisations that currently have jurisdiction over the tourist icon.

“I’m advocating a better management system and a user-pays approach,” she said.

“We should have one management authority that is a one-stop shop when you want to do something or when advocacy needs to occur for funding.”

Cr McArthur said the current level of bureaucracy made it difficult to push improvements through.

“It’s like walking through a minefield if you want to actually do anything, but it’s also extremely costly if you want to go about doing something. It also slows down any activity that happens,” she said.

“Here it is as one of Australia’s most iconic tourist sites, probably one of the most important in the world, and you can barely see it and there’s no where to park your car.”

Increasing tourist numbers are putting the infrastructure at the Twelve Apostles and surrounding area under pressure, with many south-west leaders and tourism experts calling for major funding to improve facilities and roads.

Cr McArthur said an entry fee could be introduced to help cover costs, with international tourists used to paying to see sites across the globe.

“You pay an entry fee to go into these places and that goes towards management of the site but also to enhance the tourist facilities,” she said.

Cr McArthur’s comments echo Polwarth MP Richard Riordan, who said a Great Ocean Road Management Authority would ensure there was a major investment in infrastructure, as well as a better way of managing high volumes of tourists.

“The advantages are so great. It provides an income stream, there is a spread of tourists throughout the day and visitors are forced to spend more time in the region,” he said.

“It needs to be managed like any other natural asset.”