The economic impact of national parks and reserves on the NSW Far South Coast

The former Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) commissioned the Centre for Agricultural and Regional Economics to undertake a regional input-output analysis to assess the direct and indirect contribution of park management expenditure and park visitor expenditure to the regional economies of Eurobodalla and Bega Valley Shires on the NSW Far South Coast.

The area includes the coast and escarpment south of Durras Lake to the Victorian border, and contains 27 national parks and reserves which provide a range of visitor facilities and recreation opportunities. Many of these parks and reserves have been created in the last few years. Biamanga and Gulaga National Parks have recently been returned to Aboriginal ownership and are now leased back to the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). The parks will be jointly managed by the Aboriginal owners and NPWS.

Summary of findings

It was estimated that the coastal and inland parks and reserves of Eurobodalla and Bega Valley Shires are visited by around 972,000 people a year. 624,000 (65%) of these visitors are tourists who visit the parks in these areas from other parts of NSW, Australia, or overseas.

The estimated economic contribution from OEH park management and spending by visitors who come from outside the region, is shown below.

Regional economic activity

OEH expenditure (p.a.)

Park visitor expenditure (p.a.)

Regional value-added activity

$8m $54m

Household income




108 jobs

813 jobs

The study estimated the amount of income added to the Far South coast economy each year (‘value added activity’) and found that OEH expenditure contributed $8 million per year in direct and indirect regional value-added activity. About $4.8 million a year of this comprises household income. OEH expenditure directly and indirectly generated the equivalent of 108 jobs in the region.

The study indicates that those visitors to Far South coast parks and reserves who come from outside the region contribute $54 million per year in direct and indirect regional value-added activity, which includes $19.5 million as household income. Visitor spending helps generate the equivalent of 813 jobs in the region. That is, OEH-managed parks and reserves in Far South coast help generate the equivalent of more than 920 local jobs.