National parks plan hopes to drive eco-tourism
CAMPING of the glamorous kind, river canoeing and cosy cabins could all be the way of the future for Queensland's national parks.
The LNP Government will look at every proposal when it comes to assessing what to let into national parks as part of a plan to drive eco-tourism.
National Parks Minister Steve Dickson and Tourism Minister Jann Stuckey on Wednesday released the government's plan for eco-tourism, which is now open for consultation.
Using a backdrop of a luxurious camping setting - complete with double bed, greenery, bath robes and hotel slippers - at Parliament House, the pair outlined a target to make Queensland's eco-tourism the best in the world.
"I think it's very important to note that Queensland used to lead the world in eco-tourism," Ms Stuckey said.
"We were a pioneer in eco-tourism. So part of our goal is not only to re-instate Queensland as the number one tourism destination but to make us number one eco-tourism."
"Soft" options, such as camping, small accommodation options and low-impact tourism activities, are likely to be favoured options.
The Queensland National Parks Association has warned opening parks up to eco-tourism would ruin the natural experience for generations to come.
The industry group also believes the plan will be a blow to national park fringe towns, which rely on visitor expenditure.
Mr Dickson would not be drawn on which parks he believed were under-utilized but Ms Stuckey said she hoped those who came forward with a development proposal would identify where they wanted to do it.
But Mr Dickson said the eco-tourism consultation plan was not about "ruling anything in or ruling anything out".
"It's about what is going to be appropriate and what the community would like to see happen because today is about… going out to the tourism industry and the people of Queensland and see what they want," he said.
The government estimates visitors to national parks generate about $4.5 billion for the state economy each year.Most of the visitation is concentrates in 30 key parks, which attract 70% of the visitors.
The State Government wants to grow visitor expenditure to $30 billion by 2020.