Parks visitation continues to drive tourism jobs

Will Hodgman, Premier & Minister for Parks.

Tasmania’s unrivalled natural environment has attracted record numbers of visitors to our national parks throughout the 2017-18 year.

Our National Parks and Reserves are one of the key drivers of growth in our visitor economy, with close to half of our tourists saying they come here to see them.

The new visitation figures released by the Parks & Wildlife Service today show that overall visitation increased by seven per cent in 2017-18 (to 1.4 million visits). This included:

  • Visitation to Freycinet increased by six per cent to a record 310,000 people,
  • A 13 per cent increase in visitation at the Tamar Island Wetlands in Launceston,
  • Visitor numbers were up nine per cent at Highfield House in Stanley,
  • A six per cent increase to Tasman Arch on the Tasman Peninsula,
  • Lake St Clair visitation higher by five per cent, and
  • Visitation to the Mole Creek Caves hit record levels of 63,000 visitors following closures caused by flooding in 2016.

These increases mean that more people are travelling to our regions, adding to our regional economy by staying longer and spending more.

The Government is committed to making Tasmania the environmental tourism capital of the world and these latest figures show that our Plan is working.

Our National Parks support 200 nature based tourism operators who create thousands of jobs for Tasmanians.

The Liberal Government is investing over $65 million in the management of our parks and reserves to protect our precious wilderness assets and provide opportunities to engage with our natural areas, not just for now but for generations to come.

Importantly, we are also making it easier for Tasmanians to visit and enjoy the unique experiences on offer around our home state. This year we launched a new policy giving Tasmanian seniors one year’s free access to our National Parks and heavily discounted passes for future years. This means every Tasmanian aged more than 60 who works less than 20 hours a week, will have a year’s free access and an ongoing 50 per cent discount thereafter.

Today, I attended the official opening of the Parks 21 annual forum jointly hosted by the Tourism Industry Council Tasmania (TICT) and the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS). Parks 21 is a joint initiative of the TICT and PWS established in 2014 with a focus on nature based tourism in Parks around the State.

The Parks 21 Memorandum of Understanding has governments and stakeholders working together for a holistic approach to sustainable tourism – and the results are certainly speaking for themselves. A Parks 21 Progress Report has been released and is available at www.parks.tas.gov.au.

4 September 2018