Prepare your business operations manual

When you apply for a Parks Eco Pass you must submit a detailed operations manual that shows your business policies and procedures.

What is an operations manual?

An operations manual details of the policies and procedures of your business, including environmental and cultural practices and safety measures. We need this information to assess your application for an Eco Pass.

Your operations manual should confirm that you have:

  • high-quality, extensive knowledge, skills and experience in all aspects of your activities
  • staff that are appropriately experienced, qualified and trained
  • a sound understanding of safety and environmental issues related to your activities and effective risk-management procedures.

You may already have an operations manual. However, a general operations manual from your parent company probably won’t contain enough specific information on your Parks Eco Pass activities in our parks.

What to include in your operations manual

You must include:

  • details of your company/trading name
  • a description of your business/tourism product, including the activities you want to conduct
  • a brief 'vision' or mission statement for your business
  • details from your business plan, such as your target market, your unique selling point(s) and what you hope to achieve for your clients by operating in national parks.

Describe the products and programs that you wish to provide, giving details of the:

  • types of activities (for instance, guided bushwalking)
  • locations you want to visit
  • duration of your tours
  • objectives of the activity (what it is designed to achieve)
  • client expectations.

You may also want to include the information provided in your brochures and other promotional material, including key attractions and a program guide.

Provide details of the messages you hope to convey through your tourism/recreation product and the content of your programs.

We expect Parks Eco Pass operators to provide high-quality interpretation of the natural environment and culturally-appropriate interpretation of historic and Aboriginal heritage.

The level of interpretive content will depend on the type of activity. For example, an adventure activity such as abseiling or white-water rafting may involve less interpretive content than a guided bushwalk.

Please refer to the Plan of Management (PoM) of the NPWS reserve in which you wish to operate in and assist in identifying the parks values and objectives.

General interpretation

An authentic Aboriginal tourism experience can only be developed and delivered by or with Aboriginal people. NPWS is committed to ensuring that on-park Aboriginal tourism experiences are developed and delivered in a culturally sensitive way. That is, experiences that maintain the authenticity and integrity of the 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 three (3) years from an Aboriginal organisation that is representative of the local community (for example a Local Aboriginal Land Council, or a Prescribed Body Corporate (PBC)) supporting 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 any photographs, videos, art, music and any other medium depicting Aboriginal sites, places, people or culture be used for promotional purposes

Joint Management Agreements

Where the Licensee wishes to undertake Aboriginal Cultural Heritage interpretation within a NPWS reserve that is currently under a formalised agreement (Part 4a), a letter of support must be obtained from the representative committee prior to undertaking Aboriginal Cultural Heritage interpretation.

NSW Aboriginal Land Council boundaries and contact details

Note: Not all Aboriginal agreements are listed at the NSW Aboriginal Land Council boundaries and contact details webpage.

The Business Development Team are able to assist you to connect with an Aboriginal organisation representative of the local community.

Provide details of how your business will fulfil its environmental responsibilities.

As a Parks Eco Pass licence holder, you should carry out your work in an ecologically sustainable manner. By informing and educating your clients you can also promote minimal-impact practices. What these practices are will depend on your type of activity.

If appropriate, you could endorse the seven 'Leave No Trace' principles as part of your operations manual and give specific examples of how you comply with these principles in your day-to-day operations.

Provide your work health and safety (WHS) policies and procedures.

You must ensure that all your guides and employees have and maintain the relevant competencies and skills for leading and guiding your activities.  Please refer to the Australian Adventure Activity Standards. You must also ensure that you carry out your business activities in a safe and reliable manner under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. You can review your WHS responsibilities at the SafeWork NSW website.

For each activity you must provide and maintain an Emergency Response Plan that outlines procedures to be followed in the event of natural or other disaster, injury, illness or delay.

You should identify foreseeable risks and develop strategies to avoid or minimise these them. The industry body relevant to your activity may provide established risk-management guidelines that you can adapt for your business. However, your plan must be specific to your planned activities.

Your plan must include:

  • information that will help your staff prevent a dangerous situation becoming worse
  • injuries that may be incurred
  • guidance on how reduce the likelihood of further incidents occurring
  • a copy of your activity incident report form.
  • how you identify hazards and assess risks
  • how you manage risks
  • incident/emergency response procedures
  • client-to-staff ratios
  • activity-equipment standards
  • first-aid qualifications and equipment
  • your procedures for maintaining and replacing equipment
  • what you’ll do if the weather is unsuitable for your activity
  • documentation and records you’ll keep.

Providing as much detail as possible will help you properly assess and manage risk in your business operations.