Fast-tracking GOR tourism projects

Fast track: The state government has set up a taskforce, which will include Warrnambool, Corangamite and Moyne councils, to find ways to fast-track tourism developments along the Great Ocean Road.
Fast track: The state government has set up a taskforce, which will include Warrnambool, Corangamite and Moyne councils, to find ways to fast-track tourism developments along the Great Ocean Road.

An expert taskforce to fast-track projects that attract visitors to the Great Ocean Road (GOR) has been established by the state government.

The taskforce will for the first time bring together key agencies responsible for the road.

But the move has been labelled as “a waste of time” by Member for Polwarth Richard Riordan who has lobbied for an overarching GOR authority to stop the “piecemeal” management of the iconic route.

Mr Riordan said the taskforce’s role needed to include a revenue review that was part of a greater funding commitment to the GOR.

Mr Riordan said GOR visitors and communities had not been treated with respect because the large visitor numbers were not generating much income for towns and initiatives were needed to change that.

He said the Shipwreck Coast Master Plan had proposed big upgrades to visitor facilities along the road  but the state government had still to commit funds to it.

The state government said the taskforce would be co-chaired by former Victorian transport ministers Terry Mulder and Peter Batchelor. Its primary goal will be to encourage more tourism and investment in the region.

It will also include G21 chief executive Elaine Carbines, former chair of Victorian Coastal Council Diane James, Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism chair Wayne Kayler-Thomson and the chief executives from the five local councils, including  Corangamite, Warrnambool and Moyne, whose areas the GOR traverses.

The government said the taskforce’s first role would be to work out what was and wasn’t working in creating opportunities for the tourist hot spot.

It will identify ways to improve tourism and investment and projects that will boost the local economy.

The taskforce will report back to the government before the end of the year – and then again with a final report in 2018.

The government is providing $1.3 million to establish the taskforce, including $80,000 for councils along the Great Ocean Road to speed up planning applications.

It is also currently spending $53 million on roadworks along the Great Ocean Road.