A CHAIRLIFT to the top of Mount Buffalo would cost between $20 million and $30 million to build and attract about 500,000 visitors a year.
That’s the initial assessment of a prominent US builder commissioned to look at possible routes for the chairlift and the projected costs.
Following a recent visit to the area, Rick Spear from Leitner-Poma of America, is expected to compile a full report by the end of the year.
The Alpine Valleys Tourism Board, meanwhile, is seeking “in-principle” support from Alpine Council for the project dubbed Mount Buffalo Skyways.
An officer’s report to be presented to a council meeting in Mount Beauty tonight says the Mount Buffalo Skyways would elevate the region’s status on the tourism map.
“While our local beauty is well known, it is clear that in order to increase visitation to the Alpine Shire an iconic tourism product is required,” it reads.
“This project aims at developing an iconic tourism product that would be unrivalled in Victoria and would be among the key destinations nationally.”
The report recommends two councillors be appointed to a taskforce aimed at pursuing the chairlift.
Alpine Valleys Tourism Board chairman John Kroeger hoped council would unanimously endorse the concept before it is presented to the public for comment.
“We’re wishing council in principle to approve the project knowing it is a very long road to prove the feas- ibility, viability and community support that’s necessary to build a gondola to the top of Mount Buffalo,” he said.
Mr Kroeger said Leitner-Poma, which specialises in the construction of cable transport systems, had identified five potential paths for the project.
He said it would be a long-term project like the skyrail rainforest cableway in Cairns which took more than seven years to plan and build.
The board has, however, discussed the project with Parks Victoria and the Victorian Government as part of its efforts to secure a 99-year lease for Mount Buffalo Chalet.