South Australia is reforming its national park entry fee system, making visitors buy camping passes separately to park entry.
The changes mean holiday park passes, multi-park passes, single park passes and hiking or cyclist park passes will no longer include camping which must now be purchased through a new online booking system.
The changes came into effect at the start of this month, although all valid camping passes purchased before then will be honoured until they expire.
The Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) says changes to the park pass system are part of a push to stimulate more tourism activity in parks through a review and abolition of park entry fees where possible.
The department’s Parks and Partnerships program manager Chris Thomas told the Port Lincoln Times that the changes were part of the state government’s aim to make South Australia a ‘world-leader in nature-based tourism’.
“As part of this, we are looking at ways of increasing the number of people visiting parks, including reviewing and possibly even abolishing park entry fees where possible,” he said.
The system will reportedly allow campers to book a site up to 12 months in advance and pay online rather than at the old payment stands at park entries.
Mr Thomas said the online booking system allowed people to book their camping adventure from the comfort of their own home.
He said it also provided certainty that people’s favourite camping spots would be reserved and available when they arrive.
“This transition away from a first-in, first-served approach has come about after feedback that people, especially families, prefer to reserve and book their campsites before they leave home,” Mr Thomas said.
The Department of Environment, Water and Natural says the revenue raised from camping and park entry fees is used for park maintenance, services and improvements like providing good trails, clean toilets, hot showers and gas barbecues for visitors to enjoy.
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