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Best Practice Ecotourism Development Guidelines

“The Queensland Government is working towards its vision to make Queensland a world leader in ecotourism. Already a popular tourist destination, Queensland boasts more than 1300 protected areas on state land, including national parks, conservation parks, state forests and marine parks along with a network of private protected areas, such as nature refuges, that conserve a diverse array of species and ecosystems. Queensland also has a rich Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage and five World Heritage Areas.


The Queensland Government and the tourism industry are working in partnership to capitalise on this unique competitive advantage and provide world-class recreation and tourism experiences to visitors. A balanced approach between tourism and conservation is essential to ensure that only appropriately designed and managed, low impact, ecotourism facilities are allowed on national parks. Ecotourism facilities on national parks must be conducted with an understanding of how the national park functions as an ecosystem, and how a facility will conserve the cultural and heritage values, benefit Traditional Owners and community; improve the visitor experience, and be integrated into the park.


The Best Practice Ecotourism Development Guidelines (Best Practice Guidelines), together with the Queensland Ecotourism Investment Opportunities - Implementation Framework (Implementation Framework), assist proponents to conceptualise and develop ecotourism facilities and experiences in 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.


To apply for an ecotourism facility under section 35 of the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (NC Act), proponents must use these Best Practice Guidelines. They provide background information and tools to direct proponents through the legislative requirements, best practice ecotourism development criteria (best practice criteria), and merit criteria that must be addressed as a first step in achieving best practice for ecotourism in Queensland’s national parks.


Best practice in ecotourism can be achieved by developing an ecotourism operation that is integrated into the national park in a way that meets the best practice criteria, for example by taking into account:

• site values and constraints and awareness of park management priorities

• site layout that aligns with cleared or disturbed areas

• site design that blends into the landscape

• construction methods that have minimal impact

• energy, water and waste systems that promote the conservation of resources

• well-informed visitor interpretation and activities that raise awareness of the critical importance of national parks

• long term community and Traditional Owner partnerships, cultural awareness and shared economic benefits.” (p.5)