Big news out of Australia that could slow the growth of Australia’s ski industry. The New South Wales Government and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) have decided to not continue the status quo and not grant a head lease for the Perisher Range to any company. The decision was not expected until October and is generally considered a disappointment to Skiers, Vail Resorts (owners of Perisher), and the NPWS.
“The Expression of Interest responses were evaluated for Perisher Range. On the advice of the tender panel the Government will not be offering a head lease to any proponent for Perisher Range at this time.
A sustainable service delivery model for Perisher Range is important for the future of the resort. Government is investigating better cost recovery options for providing services at Perisher Range Resorts and will progress this in consultation with stakeholders.” – NPWS statement
The current situation is that Perisher Ski Resorts (Vail Resorts) holds a lease on the mountain only and operates the lifts. The NPWS holds the lease to the Perisher Range and controls the use of the whole valley including the Perisher parking lots.
Many thought the best option was for Perisher Ski Resort to receive a long term head lease on the Perisher range and be able to plan a village and further development with the certainty of controlling rights like nearby Thredbo resort and North American resorts like Vail or Squaw Valley. Another option was for the NPWS to sell to an outside company who would develop their own village. Most saw the NPWS retaining control as the worst option, as the NPWS has no means or plans to develop the valley. In fact, the NPWS initiated the government review of the lease.
Currently, the NPWS is the landlord for the Perisher Range and is in charge of utilities and infrastructure throughout the range. Additionally, Perisher receives the most skier visits in Australia but has a major lack of lodging. A new village is expected to bring 800-4800 more beds to the resort. This is an improvement but still, leaves Perisher well short of the lodging capacity of most Victorian resorts. The NPWS also has an interest in developing the valley, as they receive much of their revenue from taxes and fees on businesses in the Perisher range. They also collect entrance fees to pass through nearby national parks. Obviously, more businesses and more people mean more revenue that would go to the conservation of the surrounding environment.
The NWS government envisions an environmentally and commercially sustainable year round resort, and until they issue a head lease on the Perisher range, that vision falls on the NPWS. Hopefully, some deal can be worked out to provide a more certain and bright future to the Perisher range.