Strategies and plans

    Ecotourism Plan for Queensland’s Protected Areas 2023-2028

    The Ecotourism Plan for Queensland’s Protected Areas 2023-2028 (PDF, 1.4MB) (the Plan) provides the framework for planning and delivering immersive ecotourism experiences in Queensland’s spectacular national and marine parks and other protected areas. The Plan acknowledges challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to the tourism industry and outlines the government’s commitment to foster innovative ecotourism opportunities and experiences that allow visitors to actively provide a positive contribution back to Queensland’s protected areas and local communities while helping to rebuild a sustainable, resilient ecotourism industry. The Plan begins to re-frame how we think about sustainable ecotourism and focuses on visitors consciously connecting with and contributing to where they visit. There is also a strong focus on working with our First Nations partners to build their capacity in offering genuine cultural experiences. We want to deliver projects that allow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to showcase their on-Country ecotourism experiences and support their priorities for Country and community.

    The Plan details actions to be delivered from 2023 to support six priority areas:

    1. Deliver innovative ecotourism products and experiences to showcase Queensland’s world-renowned protected areas.
    2. Enhance ecotourism in Queensland’s iconic marine environments through new public facilities to support experiences.
    3. Partner with First Nations peoples in planning and delivering ecotourism projects on protected areas to ensure outcomes are culturally appropriate and aligned with First Nations peoples’ priorities.
    4. Facilitate new ecotourism projects on land adjacent to protected areas by sustainably reusing developed and degraded land, and continue to promote low-impact ecotourism on DES-managed land such as enhancing camping areas and reusing existing heritage structures.
    5. Work with the ecotourism industry and research organisations to develop new regenerative tourism and citizen science offerings on and adjacent to protected areas.
    6. Build the capacity of the ecotourism sector operating on protected areas to offer exceptional visitor experiences and reduce the environmental impact of their operations.

    Current Opportunities:

    The Queensland Government’s Engaging Science Grants program is offering funding of up to $20,000 for projects that inspire more Queensland students to study STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects and promote STEM career opportunities.

    The 2024 grants round will include a component of funding for projects that encourage tourists and visitors to contribute information and data to research projects that aim to improve the conservation and recovery of threatened species across our national parks and other protected areas.

    As well as the usual STEM engagement activities, eligible projects for this round could include engaging visitors to map or monitor flora and fauna species, testing water quality, modelling of erosion, soil sampling, observing changes to the environment, or conducting behavioural research of visitors.

    Apply through Engaging Science Grants.

    Grants close 4pm Wednesday, 8 November, 2023.

    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.