Fluff your beanies, wax your skis and maybe get familiar with the term aprés-ski because Aspen might just be on our doorstep in a few short years.
OK, not Aspen itself, but the Australian version of the high-flying ski resort in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains (hopefully) replete with trees adorned with fairy lights, cobbled streets lined with cool boutique stores, and very fancy people – even celebrities – making it an essential stop on their perpetual world trips.
This is the vision NSW Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional NSW and Member for Monaro John Barilaro has for the Snowy Mountains, with investigations into an airport as part of the region’s Special Activation Precinct (SAP) now underway.
The objective of the Snowy Mountains SAP – one of four similar projects within NSW – is to increase year-round tourism and make the region, which at this stage includes Jindabyne’s town centre and Kosciuszko National Park, an unmissable place to visit at any time.
Mr Barilaro said now is the time for big thinking when it comes to planning for the future of Jindabyne and the Snowy Mountains region.
“We know the Snowy Mountains is a special place, and our community in Jindabyne and the surrounding Snowy region has been deeply hurt by the recent bushfires and COVID-19 restrictions, so now more than ever we will be bold in finding ways to make the region stronger,” he said.
Mr Barilaro said the Snowy Mountains SAP is an opportunity to transform the Snowy region into the “Queenstown of Australia” or the “Aspen of the Southern Hemisphere”.
SAP investigations are also looking at opportunities to similarly activate destination tourism at Eden, which acts as a natural gateway from the NSW Sapphire Coast to the Snowy Mountains.
The current expansion of the Snug Cove cruise terminal at Port of Eden has created opportunities to capture more visitors to alpine areas year round, said Mr Barilaro.
And while the SAP had a broader vision, he said it would still focus on the needs of the town of Jindabyne and build on the important town planning aspects of the original Go Jindabyne master plan.
These key aspects include the education precinct, affordable housing options, health care, aged care, a library, heritage centre, and improved community amenities.
“So we’re looking at all options, big and small, for the short- and long-term,” said Mr Barilaro.
“We know the key barriers to growth are capacity constraints for local tourism operators, and connectivity into the region.”
The NSW Government is working with Snowy Monaro Regional Council, businesses and a community advisory group to progress the master plan process.
Government representatives expect to start community consultation sessions in person during the coming months.
The Special Activation Precinct program is driven by the $4.2 billion Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund.