How much will National Park hunting cost our tourism industry?

Greens MP and tourism spokesperson, Jan Barham, has questioned whether the NSW Government has conducted a cost benefit analysis of the impact of hunting in National Parks on the tourism industry.

“I’m aware of concerns within the tourism industry about this ill-conceived scheme. The NSW Government must consider the economic impact of lost tourism income across the state before it proceeds with allowing hunters into parks and reserves,” Ms Barham said.

Ms Barham noted that nature tourism is a key part of the state’s tourism industry. “NSW parks had an estimated 38 million visitors in 2010, bringing in millions of dollars directly to the Government for park access, along with the income for tourism operators and local businesses.”

“If hunting is introduced then a proportion of that income will be lost. Some visitors will be unable to access parks while hunting is scheduled, and it’s likely that many others will stay away due to safety concerns.”

“The Government needs to justify the likely economic impacts of hunting on the small businesses who rely on tourism. They also need to indicate whether they have considered compensating tourism operators whose business is affected by the hunting program,” Ms Barham said.

“Tourism already accounts for 4.5% of the state’s employment and contributes billions of dollars each year to the state’s economy, and the Government has set itself a target of doubling visitor expenditure by 2020. Our state’s natural areas are one of the key attractors for tourism, and the Government’s own Industry Action Plan aims to increase tourism in National Parks.”

Ms Barham raised concerns that the hunting scheme was rushed through as a political solution without appropriate analysis. “We already know that the Government hasn’t thought through all of the safety risks, leading to the delay of the hunting program’s introduction. I suspect we might find that the sums don’t add up for regional tourism as well.”

Question without notice, Legislative Council Hansard 21 February 2013 – Hunting in National Parks