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Domestic visitation to NSW national parks

How many domestic visits in 2014 compared to 2012?

In 2014, park visitation was estimated at a total of 39.1 million, accrued from 31.4 million adult and 7.7 million child visits. This is an increase of 10.3% on 2012 results (35.4 million).

PWG Park Visitation by Year2008201020122014
Adult Visitation 31,128,875 27,262,279 28,745,337 31,466,415
Child Visitation 6,798,741 6,581,347 6,750,287 7,700,954
Total Visitation 37,927,616 33,843,626 35,495,624 39,167,370

What parks do they visit?

In terms of volume of visits Blue Mountains national park re-gained its top position in 2014 with 4.2 million visits. This was followed by Royal national park 3.2 million visits, Ku-ring-gai Chase national park 2.6 million, Lane Cove national park 2.1 million and Sydney Harbour national park 1.9 million.

Table 1 Top 10 national parks

This table provides visitation levels for 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014 for the ten most visited national parks in New South Wales. In 2014 these were Blue Mountains, Royal, Ku-ring-gai Chase, Lane Cove, Sydney Harbour, Kosciuszko, Bouddi, Worimi, Tomaree and Botany Bay national parks.

Visits by National Parks and Wildlife Service Branch

In 2014, Metropolitan and Mountains branches represented 52% of all visits, up from 50% in 2012, followed by Coastal Branch. Park visits to the Western Branch increased to their highest levels recorded to 1.4 million visits.

Table 2 Park visits by National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Branch

Branches are an administrative area for the NPWS which includes a large number of parks. There are three branches in NSW Metropolitan and Mountains, Coastal and Western. in 2014 Metropolitan and Mountains received 20.1 million visits, Coastal 15.6 million visits and Western 1.4 million visits. A further 1.3 million visits could not be linked to a specific branch.

Who visits?

Intrastate visitation comprised 91.8% of all visits, while interstate visitation comprised 8.2% of visits.

Table 3 Origin of visits

This table shows where our park visitors live. In 2014 60.6% of our visitors lived in Sydney, 31.2% lived somewhere else in NSW, 1.5% lived in the Australian Capital Territory, 1.2% lived in Melbourne, 1.2% lived somewhere else in Victoria, 2.5% lived in Brisbane and 1% lived somwhere else in South East Queensland.

Age and sex of visits

As in the previous years, males (55%) were more likely to visit parks than females in 2014.

Visits by 18-24 year olds (10%) were underrepresented compared to the population (12%).

Visits by 25-34 year olds are underrepresented (18%) compared to the population (19%). This underperformance is largely driven by males.

Visits by 35-49 year olds (29%) are consistently greater compared to their proportion in the population (26%). This is predominantly driven by males in this age group.

Fifty-plus year olds: the proportion of visits from this group (42%) was the same as their proportion of the population (42%). This is due to the substantial contribution of males as females are significantly underrepresented.

Table 4 Age and sex of visits

This table tells us more about the age and sex of visitors to New South Wales national parks. In 2014 Males 18-24 years generated 7% of our visits, Males 25-34 years 8% of our visits, Males 35-49 years 16% of our visits and Males 50+ 24% of our visits. Females 18-24 are 3% of our visits, Females 25-34 years are 10% of our visits, Females 35-49 years are 13% of our visits and Females 50+ are 18% of our visits.

What do visitors do?

Walking is consistently the most commonly named activity undertaken in Parks and Wildlife Group (PWG) parks at 49%. This has however, dropped from the level quoted in 2012 (56%). Walking is followed by water-based recreation (20%) and picnicking/dining which also declined significantly year on year (11%).

Camping and accommodation, exercise and sport and cycling are the next most popular activities. Sixteen per cent of respondents nominated an activity other than those listed.

Table 5 On park visitor activities

This table provides a breakdown of the main activities that visitors do within New South Wales National Parks for the years 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014. Walking was the most popular activity in 2014 undertaken by 49% of visitors. This was followed by waterbased recreation 20%, Touring and sightseeing 13%, Picnicking and Dining 11%, Camping and Accommodation 6%, Exercise and Sport 6% and a number of other less frequent activities.

How satisfied are visitors?

Satisfaction with park visits in 2014 was even higher than in previous years, with an overwhelming 94% of visitors being satisfied to very satisfied.

Table 6 Overall visitor satisfaction with park visit

This table provides information on levels of satisfaction with visits to New South Wales national parks for 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014. In 2014 59% of visitors said they were very satisfied with their visit, 35% said they were satisfied, 3% undecided and only 2% said they were unsatisfied.

How many children visit?

Child visits to PWG parks rose to their highest level in 2014 totalling 7.6 million visits (6.7 million - 2008; 6.5 million - 2010; 6.6 million - 2012). Child visits contributed 20% of total visits in 2014, whereas in previous years the contribution has been 17-18%  of all visits.

From 2008 to 2012 estimated child visits have remained relatively stable by age. In 2014 however, estimated visits for children aged 0-11 years jumped from 3.9 million to 4.6 million visits. This was primarily due to increases in visits from 6-11 year olds (from 2.0 million visits in previous years to 2.5 million visits in 2014).

Table 7 Estimated child visits by age

This table provides an estimate of the number of visits to New South Wales national parks by children aged 0-17 years of age for the years 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014. In 2014 there were 2.1 million visits by children aged 0-5, 2.5 million visits by children aged 6-11, and 2.9 million visits by children aged 12-17 years.

Source of data

NPWS used a telephone survey to collect this data. More than 1200 people were interviewed every four weeks in 2014, giving a total of 15,647 interviews. Respondents from NSW, Victoria, Queensland and the ACT were asked about NSW parks they had visited within the last four weeks.

Read the full report on Annual Visits to PWG Managed Parks in New South Wales (PDF 3.3MB)

This survey will be repeated in 2016 to track changes to our domestic visitation.

The study was based on a survey method developed by Parks Victoria. OEH wishes to acknowledge the generosity of Parks Victoria in sharing their experiences and the method.

Page last updated: 15 September 2015