Government announces $449M national parks upgrades

29 Sep 2021

Nature-based tourism is becoming more popular every year. During its consultations, the Reimagining the Visitor Economy Expert Panel, which was supported by Austrade, heard about the importance of upgrading national parks' infrastructure given its importance to tourism. The Australian Government has committed $449 million to upgrading infrastructure and facilities at national parks. The improvements will attract more visitors to experience the best of Australian nature.

Demand is growing for nature-based tourism

Tourism Research Australia data shows a growing demand for nature-based tourism over the last 10 years. This demand applies across both overnight and daytrips.

Twenty per cent of overnight trips in 2020 were for:

  • visiting national or state parks
  • bushwalking
  • whale watching.

This compares to just 14% in 2010.

Daytrips for nature-based tourism has risen from 6% in 2009 to 9% in 2020. International visitors make almost half of all nature-based daytrips.

Government support for national parks and gardens

Tourism is essential to the survival of many communities around national parks. Tourism supports jobs and local businesses.

The Australian Government is investing a record $449 million in Australia’s national parks and gardens. The investment will upgrade infrastructure and trails to attract more visitors.

The investment includes:

  • $233.4 million for infrastructure upgrades across Parks Australia’s national parks and gardens over 3 years (2020–21 to 2022–23). This investment will improve infrastructure in destinations such as Kakadu National Park and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park:
    • visitor centres
    • walking tracks
    • viewing platforms
    • campgrounds
    • amenities
    • roads.
  • $216 million for Growing Tourism in Kakadu to enable safe, sustainable tourism. It will also create more than 1,100 jobs in regional and remote areas. The investment includes:
    • $51 million for major tourism projects
    • $70 million for road upgrades
    • $35 million for the remediation of Jabiru
    • up to $60 million for a new World Heritage Visitor Centre.

Funding for National Tourism Icons Program

Four out of the five regional tourism infrastructure projects in Austrade’s $50 million National Tourism Icons Program are nature-based.

The Wangetti Trail will be a 94-kilometre walking and mountain biking trail. The trail stretches from Palm Cove to Port Douglas. It will showcase the coastal and hinterland scenery of the World Heritage-listed Wet Tropics and the Great Barrier Reef. The Queensland Government is also funding this project.

The National Tourism Icons Program provides funding to upgrade tourist facilities on:

  • Rottnest Island in Western Australia
  • the Freycinet Peninsula in Tasmania.

The Program will fund the construction of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail (Casino to Bentley). The trail will connect Murwillumbah, Byron Bay, Bangalow, Lismore and Casino in New South Wales.

When completed, the 130-kilometre trail will pass through some of the state’s most scenic countryside. It will offer walkers, runners and cyclists a unique way to explore the region while preserving the area’s history and heritage.

These projects will ensure travellers can experience the best Australian nature has to offer.

Visit for the latest data on Australia’s tourism sector.