National Parks not for sale

National Parks not for sale
National Parks not for sale

More than 50 delegates from around Australia and the world attending the Global Sustainable Tourism Summit toured Curtis Falls National Park for a Sustainability Site Tour on June 4.

CEO of Ecotourism Australia Elissa Keenan said it was a chance to show delegates a local region and showcase local tours and attractions.

“The Sustainability Site Tour to Scenic Rim was a chance for the delegates to learn about the region’s natural and cultural values and see how ECO Certified operators like O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, Southern Cross Tours and Tamborine Mountain Glow Worm Caves deliver a unique and global standard ecotourism experience.”

She said it offered delegates an opportunity to see that when visitors experience the natural environment in an authentic and responsible way it can have a transformative impact on travellers leading to more appreciation and respect for the environment and highlight conservation.

However, a number of conservation groups feared the visit was a promotional one which would open up the mountain’s national parks for tourism development.

Protestors gathered outside the entrance to Curtis Falls National Park raising concerns about development in the parks.

Wildlife Queensland Gold Coast and Hinterland secretary Gold Coast Andrew Stimson said he didn’t know why they picked Curtis Falls to tour, but he was concerned they were potentially spruiking the area for an eco-tourism venture.

“We don’t want any development in a national park,” he said.

“It is a protected area. You can’t put McDonalds in there, so why would you allow anything else.

“They (the eco-tourism businesses) cater for the super-rich and the park should be for all people, not just those that can afford it.”

While Ms Keenan didn’t comment on what activities were being considered for Tamborine Mountain National Parks, she said there was a growing demand for nature-based, sustainable and responsible tourism products and experiences.

“Governments at all levels must ensure any activity in national parks, be that accommodation, tours or infrastructure, adhere to best practice standards during planning, development, construction and operating phases.  This includes being subject to quality assurance processes and compliance checks and audits,” she stated.