The National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act) permits accommodation in parks for some purposes.
Visitor accommodation can help increase visitation to parks and enhance visitor experiences of parks. It can take the form of camping facilities, historic buildings and tourist parks.
The facilities that can be provided vary by location, but accommodation should always meet high environmental standards and be appropriate to its natural and cultural setting.
1. A range of visitor accommodation will be provided across the park system.
2. Visitor accommodation (and ancillary facilities) must:
- be consistent with the relevant park Plan of Management (PoM) or Statement of Interim Management Intent (SIMI), and park management policies
- ensure natural and cultural values are protected
- minimise environmental impacts at the site and in the surrounding area
- minimise impacts on other park users
- be appropriately low-key and suitable for the location, and meet high sustainability standards (see the Sustainability Guidelines).
- create opportunities to enhance visitor understanding, enjoyment and appreciation of park values.
3. The park authority will seek to offer unique visitor accommodation experiences that will allow visitors to enjoy and experience the natural and cultural values of parks.
4. Visitor accommodation may be developed and managed either by the park authority or by private-sector partners.
5. The park authority will provide a range of accommodation opportunities across the park system to cater for a broad range of visitor interests and comfort levels, and for people from different demographic and socio-economic backgrounds, and with different levels of physical ability.
6. Acceptable options for visitor accommodation include:
- built accommodation (new and adaptive reuse)
- semi-permanent accommodation (for example, safari-style tents based on a hard frame)
- caravans and campervans
7. Where a visitor precinct contains visitor accommodation, public access may need to be restricted to areas around that accommodation for the purposes of safety, security or operational requirements. For example, access to a fenced area around accommodation may be restricted to paying guests only, while other visitors may access the broader precinct.
8. Proposals to build, own or operate visitor accommodation in parks will be considered on the merits of each case, based on a business plan and commercial assessment of each proposal (including, but not limited to, financial viability, financial return to government and benefits to the park and the community).
9. Visitor accommodation, other than camping, may be occupied for a continuous period of no more than 21 days, unless otherwise specified in the relevant PoM or as permitted under a lease or licence, where the limit may be for a continuous period of up to 3 months. The only exceptions to this are where:
- staff or caretakers must reside on-site for the management of the accommodation facility
- leased or licensed occupancies of caravans are inherited in newly created parks. The provisions of the Holiday Parks (Long-Term Casual Occupation) Act 2002 dictate the maximum period of occupancy until the expiry of the existing interest.
Timeframes for camping are set out in the National Parks and Wildlife Regulation 2009 (NPW Regulation).