TOURISTS TO ICONIC HOTSPOT COULD SOON BE SLUGGED WITH 'BEACH TAX'

Tourists heading to one of Australia's most scenic coastal regions may soon be hit with parking fees, even for a toilet stop.

A 'beach tax' could soon be imposed on Victoria’s famous Great Ocean Road and its popular beaches.

The state government this week proposed a ‘visitor parking fee’ for all areas managed by the Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority (GORCAPA).

The fee would apply to popular beaches such as Torquay, Lorne, Apollo Bay and along a 100km long stretch of the Great Ocean Road from Point Impossible to Port Campbell.

The parking fees wouldn't be just restricted to beaches but also toilet stops, waterfalls, piers and lighthouses, The Herald Sun reported.

The region's world-famous Bells Beach is not included in the proposal at this stage.

According to the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA), locals would be exempt from the fees ‘in their local community’ but has sought feedback on the definition of the term 'local'. 

Polwarth MP Richard Riordan, whose electorate covers much of the Great Ocean Road region said that he was ‘blindsided’ by the proposal. 

'Are residents in Geelong local? Are people in Colac local?' Mr Riordan said.

'Are they just going to be taxed every time they go to the beach? I have a lot of questions.

Mr Riordan said the parking fees were essentially a 'beach tax' and would force travellers to 'plug the deficit' as the state government cuts funding on coastal and bush management to fund tunnels in Melbourne.

The DEECA said the revenue raised would go towards funding GORCAPA’s work to conserve places of cultural significance and protect and enhance sensitive environments.  

Revenue would also go towards maintaining visitor facilities and car parks, toilets, walking trails and lookouts. 

A DEECA spokesman said the visitor parking fees would directly fund the protection Great Ocean Road's parks and coast.

He said the department is inviting community feedback to help shape the change. 

'Coastal management is the role of government, we already pay tax for that,' Mr Riordan said.

'Bugger me, they’re supposed to be doing that with the money they already have.'

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2024-07-09T16:33:02Z dg43tfdfdgfd