Questions and answers for tour operators
1. Why are commercial tourism arrangements in Kakadu changing?
2. What is the current situation?
3. What will change?
4. What are the next steps?
5. Where can I get more information about the changes?
The Director of National Parks is working towards improving commercial tourism arrangements to deliver to tour operators greater flexibility and investment certainty, and to support innovative experiences and sustainable tourism outcomes for the park, its traditional owners, Bininj/Mungguy and the tourism industry.
A number of potential improvements have been identified by the tourism industry through the Kakadu Tourism Consultative Committee and in an industry forum attended by more than 100 operators in Darwin in October 2011.
Potential improvements were also identified in a review of commercial tourism activities in Parks Australia’s national parks. The review looked at the number and range of commercial tourism permits, the length of permits, fees, and exclusive and restricted access permits (known as ‘special permits’).
In Kakadu, the review was required under the Kakadu National Park Management Plan 2007-2014 (environment.gov.au/parks/publications/kakadu/management-plan.html) and was carried out in consultation with the Kakadu Tourism Consultative Committee and the Board of Management. The review’s recommendations will help us further progress the Shared Tourism Vision and also help us meet the objectives of the Kakadu National Park Tourism Master Plan 2009-2014 (environment.gov.au/parks/publications/kakadu/tourism-plan.html).
Currently most tour operators in Kakadu are issued with annual standard land-based tour permits. Some exclusive or restricted access activities operate under ‘special permits’ that were allocated for five years in 2008. Special permits include sports fishing, safari camps, commercial bushwalking tours, tours to Jarrangbarnmi (Koolpin Gorge) and Ikoymarrwa (lower Moline Rockhole).
To offer greater flexibility to tour operators, to meet business needs and to support innovation in new experiences and investment certainty, we will progressively introduce a range of new options for tour operators. The first key changes are:
More flexibility in standard tour permits
From 1 January 2013, instead of reapplying every year tour operators accredited under Tourism Accreditation Australia Limited (TAAL) licensed programs will be able to apply for three-year standard land-based permits. For information on programs licensed by TAAL, see Tourism NT's website: tourismnt.com.au/industry-resources/tourism-accreditation.aspx
One-year permits will still be available.
Fees for standard land-based tour operator permits will not change under the new arrangements. Fees are $100 (up to four trips each year) and $500 (more than four trips each year).
Interim special permits
During 2012, we will work with the tourism industry to develop a licensing system that will eventually replace special permits for existing exclusive or restricted activities.
While we are developing the new licensing arrangements, interim special permits will be offered from 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014 for existing exclusive and restricted activities.
These existing activities include sports fishing tours, safari camps at managed campgrounds, commercial bushwalking tours, tours to Jarrangbarnmi (Koolpin Gorge) and Ikoymarrwa (lower Moline Rockhole).
Fees for special permit activities are prescribed by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Regulations 2000.
A licence system for new exclusive and restricted tourism activities
We are keen to hear from tour operators who wish to establish a new activity at Kakadu. All new exclusive and restricted tourism activities will be managed by a licence. Subject to the normal Board approval, licences will be offered for innovative tourism activities that meet the requirements of Kakadu's Tourism Master Plan. Licences will be structured so that the fees reflect the type of activity, the level of investment and return and outcomes for the park and Bininj/Mungguy.
Please talk to us about a licence. Call Tracey Diddams, Tourism and Visitor Services Manager, Kakadu National Park on 08 8938 1107 or email email@example.com. Licences will be offered for a minimum term of five years. To hold a licence tour operators will be required to hold accreditation through a TAAL recognised program.
- Applications for the final round of special permits will close on 31 August 2012
- Successful applicants will be notified by 14 September 2012
- Current special permits will expire on 31 March 2013
- Interim special permits come into effect on 1 April 2013
Interim special permits will be valid for 12 months. We will work with industry over the coming year to develop a new licensing system that supports innovative experiences, more flexible arrangements and longer tenure.
Once we have determined the new licensing structure to replace special permits, tour operators will be able to apply through a competitive process.
We will be providing further advice in the Kakadu Tourism Industry Updates, by email to permitted tour operators and on our website: environment.gov.au/parks/permits/kakadu-tours.html
For more information please contact the Tourism Services Officer, Kakadu National Park on (08) 8938 1107 or email firstname.lastname@example.org