MORE than $40 million will be spent to revitalise Queensland’s national parks in an effort to turn the sunshine state into an eco-tourism mecca that would rival Tasmania.
Minister for National Parks Steven Miles said Queensland has the best national parks in the world.
The $40 million, set aside in the 2017-18 state budget, will be spent on revitalising key visitor and tourism destinations across the state over the next 24 months.
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“This Budget funding will support the recovery of national parks affected by Tropical Cyclone Debbie with priority funding for parks in the Whitsunday Islands and Mackay,” Mr Miles said.
“People from all over the world come to Queensland to camp, climb and hike through some of our beautiful Great Walks.
“Plenty more come to just relax and enjoy the pristine white sands of Whitehaven Beach, which reopened in record time after a massive post-cyclone clean-up operation
“While our rangers have worked tirelessly to get areas up and running, there is more work to be done to restore tracks and other infrastructure, and to provide an enhanced visitor experience at our national parks.
“This year’s Budget investment is critical to protecting our natural and cultural landmarks and values, and improving the quality of those visitor experiences.”
Daniel Gschwind, CEO of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council, welcomed the Budget investment.
“It is very good news that some of our most iconic national parks will benefit from this Budget investment,” Mr Gschwind said.
“Places such as the Daintree, the Gondwana World Heritage Area which includes Lamington and Springbrook; Noosa National Park and the Great Sandy National Park are all major tourism drawcards, generating income and jobs for regions.
“I am pleased that these works will be getting underway to ensure we continue to build our position as a world-class tourism destination.”
Craig Turner, CEO of Tourism Whitsundays, also welcomed today’s Budget announcement.
“The Whitsundays is globally recognised as one of the world’s leading tropical island and marine leisure holidays destinations,” Mr Turner said.
“We are in the enviable position of being a premier destination where people come for incredible nature-based experiences, particularly at our unspoilt and reef fringed islands.
“The people who come here expect to have a world-class experience during their stay.
“This announcement will help ensure the region maintains its position one of Australia’s most spectacular visitor destinations.”
Mr Miles said this funding included $5 million over two years to support the implementation of the Palaszczuk Government’s new planning framework.
“This ‘blueprint’ will ensure our national parks are managed effectively for future generations to enjoy,” Mr Miles said.
“Because when it comes to ecotourism, you can only create jobs by protecting the environment.
“The funding also supports the roll-out of new fire units for the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service who are the ‘frontline’ when it comes to protecting our national parks.
“These are the people we rely on to help manage fires and weeds, maintain our tracks, trails and camping areas, as well as educate visitors about our national parks.”