TWWHA Tourism Master Plan discussion paper released

The Tasmanian government has recently released, with little fanfare, a discussion paper entitled “Towards a Tourism Master Plan” (for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area; TWWHA); see here.

In a message sent to stakeholders, it is noted that “The paper establishes the purpose of the forthcoming draft Tourism Master Plan (TMP), presents a tourism and visitation situational analysis for the TWWHA, explains key issues and identifies how the TMP might address those issues, and presents a series of strategic principles to guide the policy directions that will be articulated in the TMP.” It is further noted that, “as this is a background paper intended to inform the preparation of the draft TMP, we are not seeking formal public comment on its content.”

Many of the strategic principles are hard to disagree with, and there are some positive statements regarding, for example, the importance of wilderness and that the allowance by the 2016 TWWHA Management Plan of a particular use in a particular area does not incur a right to do so. But, all are constrained by the deficiencies of the Management Plan which, for example, while also acknowledging the importance of wilderness does not actually effectively protect it.

The 2016 Management Plan is the overarching statutory planning document for the TWWHA and the TMP will be subservient so its eventual recommendations will have only limited influence over developments in the TWWHA. In addition the state government has stated that proposals already submitted through the expression of interest process will not be subject to the master plan. These include the controversial proposals for helicopter access and private huts at sites like Lake Malbena and on the South Coast Track. Hence we have boycotted the TMP consultation process to date (see here and here) because we felt that the ‘consultation’ was a sham as most of the key decisions have already been made.

Notwithstanding the aspects of the background paper that appear positive, our concerns cannot be allayed until we see the draft Tourism Master Plan itself, scheduled for public release and comment in March 2020. Nothing the government has said in recent months yet gives us cause for optimism.