COMMENT: A pedal-powered scheme to help stimulate the labour market in Orange will not solve Orange’s looming jobs crisis alone, but mountain-bike tourism deserves serious consideration.
The plan canvassed in today’s edition to make Orange a Mecca for off-road cycling pursuits is much more than a proposal to cater for local mountain bike enthusiasts.
It could be a drawcard for thousands of visitors looking for holidays where the emphasis is on a world-class mountain biking experience.
Are there jobs to be created and money to be made from developing this type of action holiday? The experience in Tasmania, Victoria and in New Zealand appears to indicate yes.
So too do the growing mountain bike market and the magazines that promote mountain biking, endurance racing and other so-called extreme sports.
The idea of more effectively exploiting the scenic assets of the Mount Canobolas area is not new. There has been talk before of chair lifts on the mountain, better tourist facilities on the summit and catering for the sport of mountain biking, but the scale of the project has been modest and the funding even more so.
Before the idea of a world-class mountain-biking destination is dismissed as a pipe dream, a serious business case needs to be developed.
The city’s experience with triathlons and running festivals already demonstrates that competitive and and non competitive sporting events can draw a significant number of visitors for a weekend.
What needs to be determined is whether Orange could replicate some of the success seen in regions of Australia and New Zealand that have made a name for themselves as premier outdoor recreation destinations.
There would be jobs in developing trails and other facilities. There would also be jobs in the hospitality sector and synergies with wine and food tourism. Pedal-powered tourism is just one idea to give the local economy a kick start as some traditional manufacturing jobs disappear but it is worth adding to the mix as we look for new opportunities.