Travel guide Lonely Planet is urging tourists to visit the Tasmanian wilderness as soon as possible, hinting the natural wonderland is at risk from forestry.
In its list of top-10 destinations for 2016, Australia is ranked No.6, but special mention is made of the Tasmanian Liberal government’s unlocking of old growth forests for export.
“Now is the time to experience these astounding wilderness areas before compromises are made,” the guide reads.
Tasmanian Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said the comments showed the government was damaging the island’s international tourism brand.
“The government should be ashamed to have the world eyes on us, while they cling on to a destructive and dying native forest logging industry, refuse to rule out mining in the World Heritage Area and openly pimp protected areas to private developers,” she said on Thursday.
Premier and Tourism Minister Will Hodgman said it was unfortunate Lonely Planet had been “misinformed by Green propaganda”.
“We have not in any way diminished the amount of Tasmania in reserves, nor do we plan to,” he said.
Mr Hodgman plans to write to the publishers and highlight their “innocent mistake”.
“The only changes we have made in relation to our outstanding wilderness areas is to provide for limited sensible and appropriate development, so that even more tourists can experience them.”
The Lonely Planet article includes information about the Great Barrier Reef “where a string of proposed mining ports will require the dredging and dumping of millions of tonnes of seafloor”.
But it’s not all bad news for Australia – the same item mentioned an increase in Aboriginal land rights, which is driving a boom in indigenous tourism Down Under.
Meanwhile, tourism minister Senator Richard Colbeck congratulated Saffire Freycinet for winning the title of World’s Best Relaxation Retreat at the Boutique Hotel Awards this week.
“Saffire is a luxury hotel that was designed by award-winning Tasmanian architect Robert Morris Nunn and constructed by Tasmanian company Fairbrother – it is a great example of Tasmania holding its own among the world’s most prestigious hotels,” he said.
“Tasmania’s reputation for high quality experiences and growing visitor numbers will help us reach the Tourism 2020 target of increasing overnight expenditure to between $115 and $140 billion.”