The Atherton Tablelands will continue to position itself as one of the premier mountain bike destinations not only in Australia but also internationally with opportunity for further growth in this valuable sector significant, according to a report released today by Tablelands Futures Corporation (TFC).
TFC chair Michael Lawrence said the 2015 report, Benefits of Mountain Biking to the Atherton Tablelands, was an important strategic document for the region, outlining future growth opportunities and just how valuable this sector is to the local economy.
He said it was the first version of this proposed annual document released by the organisation, which has been established since 2005, to facilitate sustainable economic grown and diversification in the region.
Over the past five years TFC has lead an active role in strategically developing the mountain biking industry in the region, from sourcing funding to prepare strategic reports for the industry overall as well as the Atherton Forest Mountain Bike Park, through to coordinating stakeholders.
“Mountain biking is one of the fastest growing and most popular outdoor activities worldwide and case studies from around the world have shown a significant increase to visitor numbers and injection of millions into struggling rural economies when specialised events are held.
“This report and future documents will allow us to quantify the benefits to the broader Atherton Tablelands region of this growing industry.”
Mr Lawrence said there was no doubt the mountain bike trails on the Atherton Tablelands, which have been constructed to world class standards, are a viable tourism attraction and already provide a significant economic stimulus to the local economy.
“The trails that have been established already attract strong usage by residents and visitors, with around 1200 riders per month currently using the Atherton Forest Mountain Bike Park.
“However, a substantial impact comes from the visitors these trails attract when major events are organised,” he added.
“Examples of this include the Crocodile Trophy, which will once again be held regionally in 2015, the 2013 MTB Cross Country Marathon Australian Championships and other world class standard competitions such as rounds of the Mountain Bike World Cup and World Championships.”
These are in addition to a strong collection of local events including the ELEV8XCM, F N Epic and others.
The Mountain Biking Report also highlights 34 tracks from 340 possible trails across the region that have been identified and deemed as immediately suitable for promotion of mountain bike trails or minor maintenance required.
This is in addition to the Sunny Savannah proposal, which is being driven by the Mareeba Mountain Goats (MMG) to create 300km of world class mountain bike trails connecting Cairns, Kuranda, Mareeba, Port Douglas and many places in between.
He said the Tablelands Integrated Mountain Bike Alliance (TiMBa), a sub-committee of TFC, would continue to provide support to see the Sunny Savannah proposal develop as well as the opening of these under-utilised fire trails come to fruition.
“The potential for growth is unprecedented. We have the climate, we have the capacity and we have the interest. It is now about working with key stakeholders such as Tablelands Cycle Sports, the MMG and all levels of government to make it happen, while coordinating marketing efforts with the broader FNQ region,” he said.
Michael Trout, chair of Tropical Tablelands Tourism, welcomed the report and said the Sunny Savannah proposal along with the potential opening of a number of identified fire trails, presented a dynamic future for cycle tourism in the region.
“We are already seeing the benefits of this burgeoning industry. Cyclists are not only travelling regionally to the Atherton Tablelands from Cairns and Townsville but also from further afield.
“Competitors taking part in the Croc Trophy come from all across the world and what we do know is that they have a high disposable income and they spend while in region,” he added.