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Federal Government pledges $233 million to boost tourism in national parks post-coronavirus

ABC Business logoABC Business 12/07/2020 By Lauren Roberts
a close up of a desert field with Uluru in the background: Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park will have some walking tracks renewed, including the Uluru Base Walk. (ABC News: Neda Vanovac) © Provided by ABC Business Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park will have some walking tracks renewed, including the Uluru Base Walk. (ABC News: Neda Vanovac)

The Federal Government will spend $233 million on tourism and infrastructure projects across five major natural attractions, in a bid to help the struggling tourism sector recover from the "economic challenges" of COVID-19, Environment Minister Sussan Ley says.

The NT's Uluru-Kata Tjuta and Kakadu national parks; Booderee National Park on the NSW South Coast; Christmas Island and Canberra's Australian National Botanic Gardens will all share in the funding pool, with the Northern Territory to take the lion's share of the investment.

Ms Ley said today's announced funding was in addition to $216 million the Commonwealth had already pledged to spend in Kakadu, and a previously announced tender to build a new viewing platform at Cahill's Crossing.

"It is the biggest single investment in our Commonwealth national parks," she said.

"It is about lifting the infrastructure, making these iconic destinations truly as good as they possibly can be as we come out of COVID."

Where will the money go?

About $162 million be spent in the Northern Territory.

In Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, there will be major upgrades to the cultural centre, as well as a revamp of walking tracks and viewing platforms. There will also be upgrades to shelters and water stations at visitor sites, and $51 million will go toward upgrades for the nearby Mutitjulu community.

Christmas Island National Park will receive a new viewing platform at the Margaret Knoll Lookout and a bird watching destination that overlooks the Indian Ocean.

In Kakadu National Park, there will be upgrades to campgrounds including improved fresh water storage, improvements to the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre, road repairs, improved staff housing, workshop and utility buildings, as well as improved fuel storage and supply facilities.

Booderee National Park will be getting a new visitor centre, upgrades to campground amenities, roads and carparks, walking tracks and viewing platforms.

And Canberra's Australian National Botanic Gardens will have some smaller improvements made, including upgrades to firefighting infrastructure.

Parks 'front and centre'

Ms Ley said the investment would support more than 1,000 jobs over the next three years and attract more visitors to the parks.

"New and improved infrastructure means more tourism, more jobs and better outcomes for Australians living in regional and remote areas, which is vital as we move through the economic challenges of COVID," she said.

"More than 50 per cent of domestic tourism bed nights are spent doing something with the natural environment. So our parks are front and centre of this."

Ms Ley said the parks were open and despite some travel restrictions remaining in place, work on upgrades would start immediately.

"Not every site in every park, but access is there and obviously not to every single person because if you are in Victoria, you are restricted," she said.

"But the fact that this investment, this $233 million is out and the work starts now, means we will have work done."

Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia chief executive officer Grant Hunt welcomed the upgrading of visitor facilities within Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and infrastructure upgrades in the Muitjulu community.

"In particular, renewal of the Cultural Centre, the cultural heart of the National Park, is great news for visitors and for the Anangu artists and businesses who base themselves there," he said.

"This funding could not have come at a better time."

Video: National parks to receive $233 million funding boost (ABC NEWS)


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