Three Capes Track

In case the new Coalition government is interested in providing additional financial support to the Three Capes Track (as requested last month by state Minister for Environment, Parks and Heritage Brian Wightman) it should consider the report bySyneca Consulting, Economic Impact Analysis for Three Capes Track, Tasman National Park – Revisited 2012.  Syneca also did a narrower economic analysis in 2008.

It has been widely publicised that the full track is costed at $48 million, up from the original estimate of $25 million, but what gets little comment is the likely ongoing economic benefit or income and, in particular, the comparison between the full Three Capes Track and shorter versions.

Of particular note in the Syneca report is Table 4.3, which shows the total expenditure statewide attributed to the track. Comparing the full track and two versions of the half or eastern track, when a more realistic estimate of walker numbers is used, i.e. 6000 per annum, the amount of expenditure by walkers generated from the complete track is $11.4 million a year verses around $9.7 million for the eastern three-day track.

Since the expenditure of walkers differs between the complete and half track narrows as the number of walkers goes down, we can safely assume that if the walker numbers were a bit lower again, e.g. 5000, then the walkers’ expenditure would be roughly the same for both the half and full track. Why would any government invest double the amount when it generates no more expenditure?

These figures may be very generous because they assume that a very large proportion of direct expenditure by walkers – 45% – will come from guided walkers paying $500 per day.

Of course there has never been an attempt to measure likely market demand, i.e. the number of walkers likely to be attracted. The numbers are just assumptions based on the Overland Track. The Overland Track attracts around 6000–7000 walkers per year and we do not expect the Three Capes Track to be as popular.

One small victory for the Tasmanian Conservation Trust and the Tasmanian National Parks Association is that the consultants were asked to assess likely costs and income based not just on the 10,000 walkers which the Parks and Wildlife Service hopes for but also for more realistic figures of 8000 and 6000 walkers per year.

Peter McGlone