$12 million rail trail boost for the region

Wangaratta Chronicle, Wangaratta VIC (General News) THE North East is set to become one of the worlds top destinations for trail cycle tourism, thanks to a $12 million funding boost from the State Government. Premier Daniel Andrews joined Minister for Regional Development Jaala Pulford and Jaclyn Symes (MLC, Northern Victoria) in Yackandandah yesterday to discuss the investment with the local community. This exciting project will help make Victorias North East one of the worlds top destinations for trail cycling, boosting tourism, growing jobs and supporting our regional economy, Premier Andrews said. The North East Cycling Optimisation Project is expected to create up to 183 jobs and attract up to 393,000 visitors each year once the new extension and enhancements are completed. This is a fantastic project to be part ofit will bring more visitors to experience our beautiful region, which will be great for local jobs, businesses and communities, Ms Symes said. The project will help deliver world class cycling infrastructure with new sections of trail linking historic gold rush era towns and diggings, Aboriginal sites of local significance and some of Victorias most beautiful scenery. This project builds upon the almost 250 kilometres of scenic sealed rail trails, dozens of mountain bike tracks and spectacular road rides that are found across Victorias High Country. Stage 2 of the project includes: enhancements to the existing Murray to Mountains Rail Trail; 31.4km extension of th trail by linking Beech worth and Yackandandah; trail enhancements such as better signage, community hubs, and digital interpretations; and marketing to both local and international audiences. Premier Andrews believes the project can kick-start private sector investment, with businesses taking the opportunity to boost their tourism offering, with new accommodation and food options to meet increased demand. Funding for the project was announced in the May state budget although the actual amount was not public until yesterday. The State Government said the funding was a direct response to the Ovens Murray Regional Partnership, which identified increasing cycling tourism as a key priority. This investment is made possible from the $103 million Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund, which is supporting the development of tourism infrastructure across regional Victoria to boost jobs and visitations.