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Domestic visitation to NSW national parks

How many domestic visits in 2016 compared to 2014?

In 2016, park visitation was estimated at a total of 51.77 million visits, accrued from 42.49 million adult and 9.28 million child visits. This is an increase of 31.3% on 2014 results.

NPWS Park Visitation by Year20082010201220142016
Adult Visitation 31,128,875 27,262,279 28,745,337 31,466,415 42,495,513
Child Visitation 6,798,741 6,581,347 6,750,287 7,700,954 9,281,310
Total Visitation 37,927,616 33,843,626 35,495,624 39,167,370 51,776,823

What parks do they visit?

In terms of volume of visits Blue Mountains national park retains its top position in 2016 with 5.19 million visits. This was followed by Royal national park 4.6 million visits, Ku-ring-gai Chase national park 3.32 million, Lane Cove national park 2.35 million and Sydney Harbour national park 2.25 million.

Table 1   Top 10 national parks

Top 10 national parks

Who visits?

Intrastate visitation comprised 87.4% of all visits, while interstate visitation comprised 12.6% of visits a proportional increase from 2014. Melbourne at 4% was our most significant interstate market.

Table 2   Origin of visits

Final adjusted annual park visitation estimate 2016Adult Visits Child Visits Total Visits
No. % No. % No. %
Sydney 22,840,314 53.75% 4,576,398 49.31% 27,416,713 52.95%
Remainder NSW 14,693,397 34.58% 3,143,783 33.87% 17,837,180 34.45%
ACT 543,153 1.28% 136,909 1.48% 680,062 1.31%
Melbourne 1,596,393 3.76% 512,468 5.52% 2,108,861 4.07%
Remainder VIC 545,108 1.28% 128,763 1.39% 673,871 1.30%
Brisbane 977,254 2.30% 147,215 1.59% 1,124,469 2.17%
Remainder SE QLD 632,210 1.49% 474,849 5.12% 1,107,059 2.14%
Remainder QLD 161,790 0.38% 38,995 0.42% 200,785 0.39%
SA 228,175 0.54% 54,995 0.59% 283,171 0.55%
WA 180,941 0.43% 43,611 0.47% 224,551 0.43%
TAS 58,261 0.14% 14,042 0.15% 72,303 0.14%
NT 38,516 0.09% 9,283 0.10% 47,799 0.09%
Total Australia 2016 42,495,513 100.00% 9,281,310 100.00% 51,776,823 100.00%
Margin of Error ±2.83% n/a ±7.34% n/a ±3.64% n/a
Total Australia 2014 31,674,661 100.00% 7,761,387 100.00% 39,436,048 100.00%
Margin of Error ±2.84% n/a ±7.99% n/a ±3.85% n/a
Total Australia 2012 28,745,337 100.00% 6,750,287 100.00% 35,495,625 100.00%
Margin of Error ±2.90% n/a ±8.02% n/a ±3.87% n/a
Total Australia 2010 27,262,279 100.00% 6,581,347 100.00% 33,843,626 100.00%
Margin of Error ±3.18% n/a ±7.44% n/a ±4.00% n/a
Total Australia 2008 31,128,875 100.00% 6,798,741 100.00% 37,927,616 100.00%
Margin of Error ±3.34% n/a ±4.40% n/a ±3.54% n/a

What sort of trips are they on when they visit parks?

Over 54% of visits to our park are day trip based and 20.3% are part of an overnight or multi-day trip.

Table 3   Trip Type

Trip Type

How important are parks for generating tourism travel?

Just over one third of NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) park visitors indicated that the only reason for their trip was to visit the NSW NPWS park (34.0%), while just under one third indicated that the park was their main reason for their trip (31.5%).

Table 4   Role of Park visitation in trip generation

Role of Park visitation in trip generation

Age and sex of visits

As in the previous years, males (60%) were more likely to visit parks than females in 2016.

Visits by 18–24 year olds (9%) were underrepresented compared to the population (12%).

Visits by 25–34 year olds are underrepresented (16%) compared to the population (19%). This underperformance is largely driven by males.

Visits by 35–49 year olds (31%) 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 (43%) was the same as their proportion of the population (43%). This is due to the substantial contribution of males as females are significantly underrepresented.

Table 5   Age and sex of visits

Age and sex of visits

What do visitors do?

Walking is consistently the most commonly named activity undertaken in parks at 63%. Up significantly from the level quoted in 2014 (49%). Walking is followed by water-based recreation (17%) and picnicking/dining which has risen year on year (14%).

Camping and accommodation, exercise and sport and cycling are the next most popular activities.

Table 6   On-park visitor activities

On park visitor activities

How satisfied are visitors?

Satisfaction with park visits in 2016 stayed at the high level attained in 2014 with an overwhelming 94% of visitors being satisfied to very satisfied.

Table 7   Overall visitor satisfaction with park visit

Overall visitor satisfaction with park visit

Source of data

NPWS used a telephone survey to collect this data. More than 1200 people were interviewed every four weeks in 2016, giving a total of 15,683 interviews. Respondents from NSW, Victoria, Queensland and the ACT were surveyed about NSW parks they had visited within the last four weeks. Visits from the rest of Australia were estimated.

Read the State report on Annual Visits to NSW NPWS Managed Parks in New South Wales (PDF 3.6MB).

The Supplementary report on Annual Visits to NSW NPWS Managed Parks in New South Wales by NPWS Branch (PDF 1.2MB) is also available.

This survey will be repeated in 2018 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: 30 January 2018