WHEN Orange councillors come to decide whether to invest money in a master plan for a mountain bike trail network on Mount Canobolas they should take a long look at recreational trends in Australia and elsewhere in the world.
A world class network of trails for mountain biking has been touted as a genuine tourist attraction and income stream for Orange.
Such an attraction would come with a substantial price tag but the returns could be just as substantial, which is why some expert analysis is needed.
The tourism industry knows from observing outdoor adventure attractions in the Snowy Mountains in summer, across the Tasman in New Zealand and simply from the growing popularity of action sports which combine cycling with other disciplines, that there is a market for mountain biking.
Whether that market is big enough now or will be in the future to justify Orange investing in the sport are the issues that need to be explored.
Mountain biking on Mount Canobolas could take the form of extremely narrow and technically difficult trails of the type expected by those competing at the elite level in the sport.
But in addition there could be potential for riders looking for an exhilarating, if less demanding trail ride, which might end at a cafe at the base of the mountain
It would be up to experts in the area of mountain biking and adventure tourism to suggest the right mix to make Mount Canobolas a major attraction but its stunning mountain scenery, the existing trails and the long descent from the summit surely have enormous potential.
Developing a genuine new tourist attraction for the area should attract government funding but council must be prepared to invest in the assessment that could lead to that point.