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Senator The Hon Robert Hill
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Jim Bacon - Premier of Tasmania
18 March 1999
An important new chapter in Port Arthur's remarkable history begins with the official opening of the recently completed Visitor Centre by Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill and Tasmanian Premier Jim Bacon.
The centre promises to be the first point of call for visitors to the former convict settlement, with informative displays detailing its unique history.
"It will really add to the educational and historical experience, while new retail and first-class dining facilities will make a visit that much more enjoyable, " Premier Jim Bacon said.
"For first-time visitors to Port Arthur it's a wonderful introduction to its fascinating history. For those who have been before it's certainly a great new attraction worth coming back to see."
Mr Bacon said tourism on the Tasman Peninsula has made a remarkable recovery with recent figures showing that 39% of all tourists to the State visited Port Arthur in 1997/98.
"That equates to more than 200,000 visitors to the site last financial year. This new visitor centre and car park will help ensure the revival continues."
The $4.5 million development was made possible through a partnership between the local community, Federal and State Governments, with the Commonwealth contributing $2.5 million and Tasmania $2 million.
Senator Hill described the opening as an important turning point in the history of the site.
"The visible improvements and first-class visitor facilities are tangible evidence that Port Arthur is moving forward," he said.
Senator Hill said that the Commonwealth recognises the national and international importance of Port Arthur and is currently working with the Tasmanian Government and the local community with the aim of nominating the site for World Heritage listing.
"This is significant because our existing World Heritage areas were nominated because of their natural or indigenous significance, while this will be the first in Australia to be recognised for it's cultural developments since European settlement," Senator Hill said.
18 March 1999
Rod Bruem (Senator Hill) 041 11 28582
Ken Jeffreys (Premier Bacon) (03) 62 33 22 22