Bush fire affected communities in regional NSW could receive a welcome tourism boost if a proposal to include rail trail projects as part of the recovery efforts is accepted.
Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, who has been charged with leading the bushfire recovery efforts in regional NSW, has said he is “considering” the proposal.
Jo Haylen, Shadow Minister for Active Transport and long time supporter of the rail trails in NSW, called on the Deputy Premier to commit to the projects that could bring millions in tourism to the area.
“It’s good to see the Deputy Premier finally waking up to the benefits of rail trails for regional communities, particularly those needing a tourism boost following the devastating fires”, said Ms Haylen.
Bicycle Network has actively supported rail trail projects in NSW for years. As well as helping locals get active, they are popular tourist attractions and an effective way to bring money to local communities.
Studies by SGS Economics indicate that a 50-60km rail trail would create an immediate 16 full-time jobs, while research from La Trobe University shows rail trail visitors in Victoria inject more into local economies than regular tourists, spending from upwards of $244 to $483 a day.
“That’s money and jobs NSW bushfire affected communities should be able to count on in this difficult time, but can’t,” said Ms Haylen.
In late 2019, Snowy Monaro Regional Council along with the NSW State Government began investigating the feasibility of a recreational trail between Queanbeyan and Bombala in NSW which has the potential to inject more than $24 million in tourism dollars into the local area.
This is one of many projects that could deliver much-needed, long-term relief to regional communities ravaged by bushfires.
Bicycle Network has again asked in our 2020 budget submission for the NSW Government to commit to rail trail projects in regional NSW for their economic, tourism, recreation and health benefits.
Bicycle Network’s proposed Rail Trail Development fund would provide up to 200 kilometres of trail per year and would be available for feasibility studies, planning and construction to help facilitate the development of regional rail trail projects.
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