The plan was developed by Hong Kong-based consultants the Lan Kwai Fong Group and launched today by Premier Jay Weatherill alongside the group’s chairman, Allan Zeman.
Weatherill said the State Government would carry out a “market sounding process”, with the hope of attracting private investment to bring the vision to reality.
“We’re excited about it and we want to see if others are similarly excited.”
The Premier insisted that Cleland would remain primarily a wildlife park, but said the addition of a range of features could turn it into “an international, world-class visitor destination”.
“Our vision retains all the aspects that generations of South Australians have treasured, and builds on those by adding exciting experiences like a cable car, zip-lining and a treetop walk.”
Zeman told this morning’s media conference that he was “blown away by Cleland Park” and saw the same vision for it as he did for Hong Kong’s Ocean Park, which he successfully transformed to boost visitor numbers.
“The area here is amazing,” he said of Cleland.
“Getting here is a bit of a trip – we’ve designed something which we thought would be very good, having a cable car coming down from the bottom of the hill up to Cleland and potentially going through to Mount Lofty.”
He said that under the LKF Group plan, visitors would enter the park through an Australiana village, and be able to walk through the animal enclosures.
Other key elements of the vision include a hotel, scenic restaurant and bar options, year-round mountain-biking access and a hang-gliding simulator. It also includes the previously announced International Koala Centre of Excellence and Kaurna cultural experiences
“This is something I feel we can really make world-class,” Zeman said of the plans.
Asked at the media conference if he had committed money to the project, he said he wanted to first gauge reaction to the proposal and see if the public got behind it.
“If it looks like it’s good, if people get excited, we will go the next step, about having to raise the capital and see how we can do that.”
Premier Weatherill said the State Government hoped to make a decision about the project within the next 12 months.
He said $2.5 million had been allocated in the state budget for the initial development of the vision and evaluation of proposals, with the “next phase” likely to cost up to $150 million. It is not clear whether the State Government will contribute further funding or if the money will all come from private investment.
Weatherill described nature-based tourism as an “incredibly important” part of South Australia’s tourism industry, saying the Cleland development would continue the sector’s growth and attract visitors from key markets such as China.
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