Camping fees in national parks in New South Wales could be set for a significant hike, if the recommendations of a leaked document are to be believed.
A letter from the deputy chief executive of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Michael Wright, which was dated June 29 this year, has now been submitted to parliamentary estimates hearings. In it, Mr Wright urges park staff to be proactive in helping to secure the ‘financial sustainability’ of the service amid ‘ongoing budgetary pressures … and decreasing expense allocations across future years’.
Fairfax Media is reporting that the letter lists eight ‘sub-projects’ for savings and revenue, including ‘a review of assets currently deployed as staff accommodation’, retention of revenue derived from asset sales’, and an increase to park use and camping fees.
According to Fairfax, Mark Speakman, Minister for Office of Environment and Heritage, told Estimates that entrance fees hadn’t increased since 2004 and those for camping since 2007, and so were due ‘for a catch-up’.
Consumer prices had risen 29% since 2004 and 18% since 2007, but park fees will rise only by an average of 15% in 2015-16, Mr Speakman told Fairfax Media.
Penny Sharpe, the ALP’s upper house member who presented the leaked letter, said national parks were a low-cost holiday option and the fee increase ‘will have a huge impact for people across the state’.
Fairfax Media says motor vehicle entry fees are charged at 45 of the state’s more than 850 national parks and reserves, with most day passes now costing $7. Annual passes for all parks now cost $190 and two-year passes cost $335, according to the NPWS website.