Published 23 March 2021
Victoria's alpine industry will have a new champion, Alpine Resorts Victoria, to ensure a sustainable future for all alpine resorts.
The Victorian Government has announced its intention to merge the four existing Alpine Resort Management Boards (ARMBs), Mount Hotham ARMB, Falls Creek ARMB, Mount Buller and Mount Stirling ARMB and the Southern ARMB, into a new statutory body corporate to be known as Alpine Resorts Victoria.
The merger of the existing entities into Alpine Resorts Victoria will enable a strategic approach to best position the alpine sector to take advantage of opportunities for the development of tourism in spring, autumn and summer, build resilience and innovation for winter while driving operational efficiencies.
As part of the institutional reforms, the Alpine Resorts Coordinating Council (ARCC) will also be abolished with the strategic policy function presently undertaken by the ARCC to be undertaken by Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and other ARCC functions transitioning to the new Alpine Resorts Victoria.
The Victorian Government is committed to supporting the alpine resorts and associated communities as they recover from effects of the 2019-20 bushfires and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This decision will enable a sectoral approach to build the economic resilience of the alpine industry as well as respond to the longer-term challenges from climate change causing a significant reduction or loss of natural snow in the coming decade and an increased risk of bushfires.
The decision follows consultation with representatives of the ARMBs and the ARCC and key industry stakeholders that demonstrated broad support for reform to create economic resilience and ensure the long-term sustainable future of Victoria's alpine resorts sector, while recognising its importance to regional local communities and the state's visitor economy.
The Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, the Hon Lily D'ambrosio MP, has made it clear that:
- The government's objective is to create economic resilience and ensure the long-term sustainable future of Victoria's alpine resorts sector, recognising its importance to the state's visitor economy.
- A key principle will be ensuring industry has a platform to directly advise Alpine Resorts Victoria on strategic and operational directions for each resort.
- The government recognises the uniqueness of each of Victoria's alpine resorts and the relationships with local businesses and operators. The government is working hard to ensure the close connection remains between the governance of the resorts and businesses and operators at each location.
- A key principle will be ensuring local government and Alpine Resorts Victoria work together to enable regional local communities to flourish and enable unique opportunities to be developed.
- The composition of the board of Alpine Resorts Victoria will ensure that traditional owner and industry voices are heard at the board table.
- Government will maintain the number of frontline operational roles across the resorts and support staff to transition to the new entity. Where possible, leadership continuity will be maintained at the resorts during the transition.
- Local government, Traditional Owners, industry and other key stakeholders will be invited to participate in a stakeholder reference group that will meet frequently to help shape the new entity and identify issues and solutions during the transition phase. The first meeting will be held before the end of March 2021.
The Minister has also made it clear that the Victorian Government remains committed to supporting on-mountain alpine businesses through a range of packages including the commercial tenancies rent relief scheme, tourism accommodation program, and business support fund.
Although the proposed reforms will not take effect until such time as the Victorian Parliament has enacted legislative amendments, the Minister has requested that the DELWP and ARMBs commence transition planning in consultation with resort and industry stakeholders, tourism bodies, Traditional Owners and local government to ensure the new arrangements are able to commence in 2022 or at an earlier time if possible.