Strategies and plans
Queensland Ecotourism Plan 2016-2020
The Queensland Ecotourism Plan 2016–2020 (the Plan) provides the framework for building a thriving ecotourism industry and delivering new ecotourism experiences in Queensland’s spectacular national and marine parks and other natural areas. The Plan outlines the government’s commitment to foster ecotourism opportunities that support the sustainable growth of the ecotourism industry, provide a positive contribution back to Queensland’s natural environment, culture and community, and strengthen the economy.
The Plan was released on 27 September 2016 and has been developed following a six week public consultation process which attracted 83 online and written submissions. The majority of submissions agree that the Plan should strike a balance between building a thriving ecotourism industry and conserving Queensland’s natural assets.
The Plan contains a suite of 36 actions to be delivered over three years with lead and support agencies and industry partners clearly identified. The actions are aligned with five strategic directions:
- Driving innovation in ecotourism experiences.
- Showcasing the world renowned Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
- Stimulating investment in new and refurbished ecotourism experiences.
- Expanding authentic Indigenous ecotourism experiences.
- Promoting Queensland’s world-class ecotourism experiences.
Ecotourism Facilities on National Parks Implementation Framework
To guide ecotourism developments on national parks, in line with the Queensland Government’s strong commitment to the environment, the Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing, in association with the Department of Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games, has revised the Ecotourism Facilities on National Parks – Implementation Framework ('the framework'). The framework sets out seven Guiding Principles and provides a transparent model for assessing and approving proposals for ecotourism facilities on national parks. It recognises that any proposed ecotourism facilities will have environmental, social and financial benefits and costs that need to be considered, and that assessment needs to occur within the context of the governing legislative provisions.
The framework explains how ecotourism facility proposals will be assessed, the matters that will be considered, and the approval and commercial arrangements for successful proposals.
The revised framework has incorporated strengthened conservation and public interest values which reflect the Queensland Government’s commitment to low impact, best practice ecotourism facilities in national parks, including:
- ensuring alternative off-national park sites have been considered first;
- a preference for proposals located on previously disturbed sites or which involve the re-use of existing redundant infrastructure;
- a contribution back to the national park estate;
- ensuring exclusive use areas associated with ecotourism facilities are restricted to only those areas that are necessary to operational requirements; and
- a position that ziplines are not appropriate for national parks.
Best Practice Ecotourism Development Guidelines
The Best Practice Ecotourism Development Guidelines (Best Practice Guidelines) assist ecotourism applicants to develop ecotourism facilities and experiences on national parks that are in the public interest, are ecologically sustainable and ensure, to the greatest possible extent, the preservation of the land's natural condition and protection of its cultural values and resources.
The Best Practice Guidelines show proponents how ecotourism facilities can be effectively integrated into national parks through awareness of:
- site values and constraints, appropriate site layout, design and construction
- low energy footprint, water and waste systems
- appropriate visitor interpretation and activities; and
- community partnerships.
The Queensland Government will use the Best Practice Guidelines to assist the assessment of preliminary concepts and to determine whether the proposed ecotourism use of a national park aligns with national park values and can be undertaken in an ecologically sustainably manner. The guidelines will also be used to assess detailed proposals where proponents are invited to progress further in the process.
Proponents should refer to the best practice ecotourism development criteria and sample prompt questions outlined in the Best Practice Guidelines when preparing their EOI submission.
Queensland Ecotourism Development Toolkit
The Queensland Ecotourism Development Toolkit (Toolkit) helps developers and investors make informed decisions regarding the development of ecotourism products on different land tenures, including national park.
This Toolkit has been produced by the Department of Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games in consultation with key landholding agencies (including the Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing), investors, the tourism industry and other key stakeholders.