7.1 Planning for visitation
- Visitation to NSW parks is estimated at 38 million visits per year.
- Visitation is not evenly distributed across the park system.
- Visitation to NSW parks continues to increase.
- In 2006, DECCW launched Living Parks, a strategic plan for managing visitation in NSW parks.
- DECCW is continuing to undertake research to improve the information available about park visitation.
DECCW aims to ensure that visitation to NSW parks is sustainable and visitors have high quality, positive experiences and are satisfied with their visit. This helps to build a more diverse constituency for conservation. Information about park visitors is a critical component of planning for visitation. Through collecting information about visitor needs and expectations, the range of activities undertaken in parks and the number of visits to an area, DECCW ensures it can continue to protect natural and cultural heritage values as well as improve the experience for park visitors.
Parks Forum field trip, Kurin-gai Chase National Park
Visitation to NSW parks is estimated at 38 million visits per year. This figure was determined through a community telephone survey of 15,700 interviews conducted over a 12 month period from February 2008 to February 2009 by Roy Morgan Research. This research found that adults represent around 31 million of the visits to NSW parks and children around 7 million visits. It also indicated that around 90% of visits to NSW parks are by state residents, which demonstrates that while parks are valuable for the natural and cultural heritage values that they protect, they are also an important part of our local communities.
Visitation is not evenly distributed across the NSW park system. Some parks receive a higher number of visitors than others (Map 2). Parks in and around Sydney receive the greatest annual visitation, with the Blue Mountains, Royal, Ku-ring-gai and Lane Cove National Parks the most popular parks in the state. Increased funding to improve and update visitor facilities is occurring in many of these parks to ensure sustainable visitation.
Map 2: High-visitation parks in NSW (estimated number of visitors per year)
Visitation to NSW parks continues to increase. Despite the overall downturn in the state's tourism numbers, visitation to parks remains popular and continues to grow. Parks are an important focus for Australia's tourism industry and nature- and culture-based tourism is the fastest growing sector in the Australian tourism market.
In 2006 DECCW launched Living Parks, a strategic plan for the management of visitation in NSW parks. Living Parks provides principles for visitor management, sets state-wide priorities and desired outcomes, and identifies actions required to achieve these priorities. Living Parks also affords opportunities to establish new partnerships between DECCW, the private sector, other public sector agencies, Aboriginal communities and the general community. The strategy further establishes a framework to facilitate sustainable investment in NSW parks, provide benefits for local and regional economies and opportunities for Aboriginal involvement in visitor management. The implementation of Living Parks, through the development of local branch visitation management plans, aims to protect and conserve the natural and cultural values of protected areas and ensure that diverse, high-quality opportunities for visitors remain and are enhanced for the future.
DECCW is continuing to undertake research to improve the information available about park visitation. Information is essential for the planning and management of visitation in parks. Core information includes how many visitors are going to a park? What are they doing? What are their expectations? What are their needs and the needs of the community? The extent of information available for visitation planning varies within the park system according to need. For example, in parks where visitation is minimal, extensive planning for visitors is not required. This situation frequently occurs in nature reserves and is found in just over half of the parks in the NSW system. For our higher visited parks however, extensive information is available to support the provision of facilities and opportunities to support sustainable visitation.
Collecting information to support visitation planning is important. While DECCW has maintained a strong focus on gaining reliable information on the number and frequency of visitors to parks, additional visitor research also gathers information on demographics, activities and satisfaction levels. Additional research has explored visitor preferences, motivations and barriers to participation in outdoor recreation activities in natural areas.
- Address the NSW Taskforce on Tourism and National Parks report recommendations.
- Develop and implement a sustainable tourism and recreation strategy, identified as a key action in Living Parks, to provide a state-wide approach to prioritising sustainable tourism and recreation activities.
- Support the implementation of branch visitation management plans as a part of delivering on sustainable visitation practices identified in Living Parks.
- Undertake surveys to determine ongoing trends in visitation and investigate people's demand for different types of outdoor recreation across NSW.
Page last updated: 27 February 2011