How Will the Rail Trail Make Money?
The vision for the rail trail includes free access to all, however those businesses or individuals who profit from the rail trail should contribute to the upkeep of the resource. Licensing fees, concessions and contributions should be paid on holiday packages, day tours, extended tours, bike hire, campgrounds and trail-side accommodation. Fees for secured parking may also need to be in the mix. Other forms of revenue may include site fees for festivals and events and income generated by annual fundraisers such as fun runs and other activities that encourage local community and visitor support.
The main stream of revenue will flow directly to businesses offering tours, accommodation, meals, transport, equipment hire and other products and services targeted directly at those people using the trail. This in turn will generate employment benefiting the entire community. Villages such as Eltham, Mooball and Burringbar, currently existing as little backwaters would be revitalised as has been evidenced in previous rail trail developments all around the world.
According to Tourism NSW, the Northern Rivers currently earns $1.335 billion annually from tourism. Published data indicates that a total of 8,622,000 visitor nights are spent in our region anually. Northern Territory Tourism by contrast estimates the current combined visitor nights for Uluru and Kakadu at just 1,820,000, these figures are based on a three year average. Visitor volumes in the Northern Rivers are therefor more than four times greater than the total for these two iconic NT destinations. There is therefor a massive existing tourism base from which to attract additional spending.
Any tourist whether International or Domestic, attracted to our region specifically because of the rail trail would contribute additional revenue above and beyond this, and if New Zealand's Central Otago Rail Trail is anything to go on, this figure would be quite substantial. Visit the Central Otago Rail Trail website on the links page and you can download the Economic Impact and Trends Survey, 2008.