Strategies and plans

Queensland Ecotourism Plan 2016-2020

The Queensland Ecotourism Plan 2016–2020 (PDF, 1.7MB) (the Plan) provided 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 outlined the government’s commitment to foster ecotourism opportunities that supported the sustainable growth of the ecotourism industry, provided a positive contribution back to Queensland’s natural environment, culture and community, and strengthened the economy.

The Plan was released on 27 September 2016 following a six-week public consultation process which attracted 83 online and written submissions. The majority of submissions agreed that the Plan should strike a balance between building a thriving ecotourism industry and conserving Queensland’s natural assets.

The Plan contained a suite of 36 actions that were delivered over three years with lead and support agencies and industry partners clearly identified. The actions were aligned with five strategic directions:

  1. Driving innovation in ecotourism experiences.
  2. Showcasing the world renowned Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
  3. Stimulating investment in new and refurbished ecotourism experiences.
  4. Expanding authentic Indigenous ecotourism experiences.
  5. Promoting Queensland’s world-class ecotourism experiences.

The previous Queensland Ecotourism Plan 2016-2020 was highly successful overall, with actions delivered by multiple Government partner agencies.

Some of the major achievements include:

  • Supporting 33 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses to develop new tourism products and experiences throughout the State through the Growing Indigenous Tourism in Queensland Fund.
  • Completing the $22.65 million Mon Repos redevelopment project to deliver a world-class attraction that showcases one of Queensland’s best wildlife experiences.
  • Implementing the Queensland Ecotourism Trails Program (major progress on the Cooloola and Wangetti projects, with other projects ongoing) and the Great Barrier Reef Island Resort Rejuvenation program.
  • Completing two major ecotourism projects, the Scenic Rim Trail and the Green Mountains Campground. Both are operational and in demand with Queensland and interstate visitors.
  • Developing Toolkits to guide ecotourism operators progressing through government planning and regulatory systems and to guide enhancements of interpretation and experience delivery.

The Queensland Government is developing an Ecotourism Plan for Queensland’s Protected Areas 2022-2027 (EPPA) to replace the expired Queensland Ecotourism Plan 2016-2020. The EPPA provides the framework and actions for supporting the ecotourism industry within and adjacent to national parks and other protected areas post COVID-19. The framework is in development stage and yet to be released.

Ecotourism Facilities on National Parks Implementation Framework

  • The Ecotourism Facilities on National Parks – Implementation Framework (PDF, 1.2MB) ('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.
  • It also incorporates strong 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
    • a position that ziplines are not appropriate for national parks.

Best Practice Ecotourism Development Guidelines

  • The Best Practice Ecotourism Development Guidelines (PDF, 1.1MB) (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
    • 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 those interested in investing in new, appropriate ecotourism facilities within the protected area estate to make informed decisions regarding the design and implementation of ecotourism products on different land tenures, including national park.
  • This Toolkit has been produced by the Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport in consultation with key landholding agencies (including the Department of Environment and Science), investors, the tourism industry and other key stakeholders.