Before you apply for a Parks Eco Pass licence

Before you apply for a Parks Eco Pass licence, please read the general operating requirements for running commercial recreation and tour activities in parks.

General interpretation

An authentic Aboriginal tourism experience can only be developed and delivered by or with Aboriginal people. The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is committed to ensuring that on-park Aboriginal tourism experiences are developed and delivered in a culturally sensitive way. That is, experiences maintain the authenticity and integrity of local Aboriginal people and their culture, adhere to cultural protocols, and respect that Aboriginal culture is the cultural intellectual property of Aboriginal people.

A commercial recreation or tour operator may provide general interpretation of Aboriginal cultural heritage. General interpretation includes:

  • the traditional name of a place and its meaning
  • the traditional names(s) of the local Aboriginal communities.

Detailed interpretation

To deliver detailed Aboriginal cultural and heritage interpretation the tour operator must:

  1. engage an Aboriginal person/s to undertake the interpretation
  2. obtain a letter of support every 3 years from an Aboriginal organisation that represents the local community (for example, a local Aboriginal land council, or a prescribed body corporate) for the licensee’s delivery of Aboriginal cultural heritage interpretation
  3. only promote themselves as a provider of Aboriginal cultural heritage interpretation if they have engaged an Aboriginal person/s to deliver the content
  4. ensure that it is culturally appropriate for photographs, videos, art, music and any other medium depicting Aboriginal sites, places, people or culture be used for promotional purposes.

Joint management agreements

When a licensee wishes to undertake Aboriginal cultural heritage interpretation within a NPWS reserve that is currently under a formalised agreement, a letter of support must be obtained from the board of management.

For more information about local Aboriginal land councils (LALCs), go to the New South Wales Aboriginal land council boundaries and contact details webpage. Note that not all LALCs are listed on this webpage.

Our Business Development Team can help you connect with an Aboriginal organisation or representative of the local community.

Accreditation improves the professionalism and standards of commercial recreation and tour operators. To obtain a 3-year or 10-year licence you must gain and keep accreditation that is relevant to the activities you wish to undertake.

The following accreditation programs currently meet our requirements for different licence terms.

3-year licence

10-year licence

Licence conditions specify how, when and where certain activities can be undertaken. They are designed to:

  • minimise impacts on natural and cultural values
  • manage potential issues associated with other visitor uses
  • minimise risks to public safety.

There are 3 kinds of conditions.

  • General conditions apply to all locations and all activities (for example, not feeding, handling or disturbing wildlife). This sample licence (PDF 115KB) shows general licence conditions.
  • Activity conditions apply to a particular activity in all locations. Activity conditions (for example, group size and client-to-guide ratios) are designed to promote safe practices and minimum standards for outdoor recreation activities.
  • Site-specific conditions reflect the specific needs of a park or reserve. They may be used to manage conflicts with other users or to protect natural and cultural values. Site-specific conditions may include:
    • permitted routes
    • camping sites
    • access arrangements
    • frequency and intensity of use
    • booking and notification requirements
    • emergency procedures.

NPWS’s role is to preserve and protect the natural and cultural values of national parks and reserves. In carrying out this role, NPWS works with operators to minimise visitor impacts, especially at popular sites.

If you run a commercial tour or activity you should ensure the sustainable and culturally appropriate use of sites by informing and educating clients and operating in a sustainable manner. In particular, you should:

  • educate customers on how to avoid damaging sites
  • build an understanding of natural and cultural heritage conservation management
  • provide good interpretation and education
  • honour historic places
  • promote respect for Aboriginal culture and sites
  • observe rules designed to protect conservation values and public safety
  • encourage active involvement in conservation activities
  • adopt minimal-impact practices for all activities
  • report damage, illegal activities and potential problems to NPWS.

To obtain a licence to conduct commercial recreation and/or tour activities, you must have and maintain a public liability insurance (PLI) policy that meets the following requirements:

  • The limit of the PLI cover must be a minimum value of A$10 million.
  • Department of Planning, Industry and Environment must be named as interested parties as per the following exact text 'The Minister for Environment and Energy, the Secretary of the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and the Crown in right of NSW'.
  • The policy must be held with an approved insurance underwriter – check the list on the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority website for details of insurers authorised to conduct new or renewable insurance business in Australia or call 1300 558 849.