Tourism potential

The bold new vision for a dramatically expanded Cleland Wildlife Park and cable car may stir up some old concerns but it is a glimpse of the future we must embrace.
For the past 50 years the thought of getting up close to the park’s cuddly koalas has trilled generations of awestruck tourists, but the time has come to consider a new, grander vision for the famous Hills attraction.
Pictures of celebrities and foreign dignitaries snuggling up to the furry marsupials have helped put Cleland and the Hills on the global tourist map and this new vision is the perfect opportunity to capitalise on the park’s international exposure.
A hotel, shopping village and restaurant would certainly be a departure from the quiet attraction-amongst-the-trees that is the current Cleland Wildlife Park, but it is time the ageing facility received the investment it needs to become a world-class tourism experience.
Where else in the world can visitors go from the city to authentic bushland in under 20 minutes? If Allan Zeman and his high profile business partners can capture even a small portion of the booming Chinese tourism sector it would represent a huge win for the Hills.
Other businesses would stand to benefit from an increase in visitors to the region and there is no reason a revamped Cleland has to abandon its ecological focus with the opportunity to blend education and excitement.
Imagine learning about our unique and wonderful environment while walking amongst the tree tops before gliding down Mt Lofty on a zipline.
While the promise of cuddling a national mascot has sustained the park in the past, the modern tourist demands more and the park must adapt to survive.
Monarto Zoo’s newly opened lion cage is a prime example of how tourism operators can continue to push the boundaries by building on already great experiences.
While there may be some validity to claims the unfunded vision is designed to give the Government a little pre-election glitter, any attempt to encourage outside investment in the Hills’ growing tourism sector can only be a good thing.
If the project is done as thoughtfully and sensitively as the Government and potential developers have promised, then a revived Cleland will truly be another jewel in the crown of Hills tourism.