One of Tasmania’s leading tourism businesses, which cost taxpayers $4 million to set up, has been offloaded for less than $1 million. The Mercury
The Tahune Airwalk was among several asset sales that earned Forestry Tasmania $822,000, the government enterprise’s annual report reveals.
But Tasmanians are unlikely to know exactly how much the attraction was sold for, with the specifics deemed commercial-in-confidence.
“The Tahune Airwalk business was the major asset sold in 2016-17 along with some vehicles, plant and equipment,” a spokesman said.
The business was bought by tourism industry veteran Ken Stronach last December. Mr Stronach leases the land and infrastructure from Sustainable Timber Tasmania, the new name for Forestry Tasmania.
“Sustainable Timber Tasmania has retained ownership of the Tahune Airwalk, associated infrastructure and land,” the STT spokesman said.
Mr Stronach said he was happy with the price.
“It was a fair market price and we pay a good rent to them, so I think everyone was happy,” he said.
FT spent $4 million building the Huon Valley attraction, which opened in 2001.
It once attracted 150,000 visitors a year, but figures dropped to about 74,000 last year. Mr Stronach said bigger winter numbers would boost that to 90,000 this financial year.
Tahune will add a rafting experience and take over the management of upgraded walks in the area, he said.
Asset sales contributed to a $675,000 gain for FT, which made a loss of $24 million in 2016-17.
Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said State Government subsidies continued to be wasted on the business.
“More than 150 job losses, government absorbing costs and the fire sale of public plantation assets are the reality, yet the Liberal propaganda machine is in overdrive,” Ms O’Connor said.
Resources Minister Guy Barnett pointed to a $41 million improvement in the business’s bottom line.
“The Government’s decisive action to restructure Forestry Tasmania into STT has proven justified with the restructure to deliver a $7.5 million financial improvement per year,” Mr Barnett said.