Speaking up for a green and prosperous future
New opportunities for our treasured natural assets to be made more accessible for visitors.
Posted on 05.11.2018
It’s time to speak up for a green and prosperous future: After many previous failed attempts and years of discussions, some significant steps are now underway to create new opportunities for our treasured natural assets to be made more accessible for visitors.
More details of the Queensland Government’s call for expressions of interests to create new visitor experiences in three specific locations can be found here. We enthusiastically welcome the government’s commitment to explore new possibilities, allowing Queensland to catch up with some of our more innovative colleagues interstate and overseas.
Not surprisingly, the recent announcement triggered a predicable response from some quarters, suggesting that “this proposal will use taxpayers money to support commercial eco-tourism that could undermine our national park system” (National Parks Association Queensland NPAQ – Bulletin 29 October 2018). The rallying cry is going out from NPAQ and others to keep ‘developers’ out of national parks and a campaign is building to again thwart any attempt to create innovative and sustainable experiences for visitors keen to be immersed in nature. As an industry we must now step up and challenge the ill-informed and false assertions that commercial tourism interests seek to sacrifice the future of our natural assets for short-term gain.
In principle, QORF supports investment that will increase access to Queensland’s outdoors. We advocate for appropriate outdoor activities in appropriate places, but the debate here seems to centre around what is considered appropriate for tourism operators in these special places.
We will speak up for our industry AND for the environment on this issue. There could not be a more environmentally committed group of people than those offering tours and services in natural settings. And far from short-sighted ‘commercial greed’, they have a material interest in protecting the very asset that their businesses are built on. It is no surprise that many sites in National Parks that are legally used by commercial operators are also those that are best managed, supervised, monitored and VALUED by the public. They also generate revenue for the management of National Parks, unlike all other non-commercial users of the parks who are not supervised, nor carefully managed like commercial visitors. Some of our most treasured natural assets, like the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics would not enjoy the level of protection and government investment were it not for the constant pressure from the tourism operators – and the visitors they bring – to increase protection and allocate government funds. In the context of the Great Barrier Reef, this is a point that even the World Heritage Committee made in its assessment of the current Reef management: The increased provision of visitor facilities to support sustainable tourism and enhance the appreciation of the property in itself is also an important contributor to the realisation of aesthetic values.
So let’s get the facts straight: tourism offers a great opportunity to harness sustainable commercial use of National Parks for beneficial environmental outcomes. We look forward to your support on this issue. Regardless of your business, if we want to remain competitive as a high value tourism destination we need quality experiences, including those in natural settings.
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