Queensland Eco and Sustainable Tourism (QuEST)
- What is QuEST?
- How does QuEST differ from the previous permit system?
- Implementing QuEST
- Why is QuEST needed?
What is QuEST?
The Queensland Eco and Sustainable Tourism (QuEST) initiative replaces the Tourism in Protected Area policy. QuEST builds on the previous policy to improve access and provide new opportunities in national parks and other protected areas for ecotourism operators.
- business certainty
- best practice standards
- support for authorised operators
- opportunities for growth
- streamlined administration.
Read the Queensland Eco and Sustainable Tourism information booklet (Resource currently being updated) for more information.
How does QuEST differ from the previous permit system?
QuEST provides an efficient, industry-focused system that promotes best practice. The essential differences between QuEST and the previous permit system include:
- one agreement for multiple activities across multiple areas, which can be obtained through one application process
- flexibility for the agreement, in part or whole, to be transferred if a business is sold (an option that was not available for permits)
- increased term of authority from three to 15 years
- one renewal at the 10-year mark, rather than a renewal every three years, reducing the renewal requirements four fold
- quarterly returns rather than monthly
- minimum standards of eco-certification and incentives to promote higher standards.
Comprehensive information on QuEST is available, including:
- Queensland Eco and Sustainable Tourism information booklet (Resource currently being updated)
- Advice for Tourism Operators Holding Commercial Activity Permits in QuEST locations
- Benefits of QuEST
- Frequently asked questions
QuEST will be implemented in stages at the following locations:
- Fraser Island Recreation Area
- Moreton Island Recreation Area
- Whitsunday islands area
- Daintree National Park
- Cooloola Recreation Area.
QuEST may apply at other areas in the future depending on use, investment required in visitor infrastructure, the natural and cultural values of the area, demand for access and input from the tourism industry.
Why is QuEST needed?
Queensland’s protected areas are a major tourism drawcard. The iconic nature of our national parks and marine parks, including five World Heritage areas—more than any other state—provides a strong competitive advantage in both domestic and international markets.
Each year there are in excess of 51 million visits by Australians to Queensland’s national parks, marine parks and they are a key driver for international visitation.
The DestinationQ blueprint sets a growth target for the tourism industry to double overnight visitor expenditure to $30 billion by 2020. The Queensland Government is developing a 20-year plan for the state’s tourism industry, positioning it to meet future challenges and opportunities. Ecotourism is a key part of this and will play an important role in meeting the 2020 growth target.
As part of the DestinationQ Partnership Agreement, the Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing (NPSR) is committed to increasing ecotourism opportunities in our national parks. A number of key initiatives have already been achieved, including:
- release of the draft Queensland Ecotourism Plan 2013–2020 for consultation in May 2013
- review of the Nature Conservation Act 1992 providing for ecotourism facilities leases on national park and other protected areas
- permit streamlining and the reduction of permit types by 50%
- an expression of interest for sustainable ecotourism investment initiatives on national parks and State lands adjacent to national parks, released in June 2013.
The DestinationQ Partnership Agreement, also tasked NPSR with fine-tuning policy to address capacity, latency, and process and administration, including incentivising eco- certification on national parks in consultation with tourism operators.
QuEST continues essential existing policy elements and incorporates new policy to increase ecotourism opportunities in national parks, streamline management and incentivise best practice operations.
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