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3 March 2004
A package in the order of $1 million will be directed to the renowned Twin Falls in Kakadu National Park.
Mr Peter Cochrane, Director of National Parks, today announced the assistance measures to help the tourism industry adjust to proposed new management arrangements.
"Kakadu is one of Australia's most magnificent tourist destinations and the tourism industry is a crucial partner in presenting Kakadu to the world," Mr Cochrane said.
"The proposed arrangements being put forward by Kakadu's Traditional Owners and the Board of Management mean that Twin Falls will be closed for swimming due to safety and cultural reasons," Mr Cochrane said. "However the area, which was closed in 2003 to tourists due to the risk of a crocodile attack, will be reopened to visitors in June.
"The major initiatives as part of the package will be a brand new boat service, boardwalks, tracks and interpretive displays to highlight the cultural experience of this very significant site," Mr Cochrane said.
"We will work closely with Traditional Owners and tour operators to enhance Twin Falls as a magnificent natural and cultural experience.
"Following consultation with the tourism industry and other stakeholders, we understand that this decision will impact on tour operators, particularly given the lead time they need to make adjustments to their tour packages.
"In light of this there will be no charge for the boat service in the first year at least.
Paul Collery, General Manager of AAT Kings P/L, and a leading tourism industry figure in the NT said, "This infrastructure is being developed to enhance the experience at Kakadu and make Twin Falls safer for visitors."
"Projects like this that deliver better access for visitors, including cultural interpretation and understanding of the Traditional Owners' relationship with the land, are critical to the tourism industry's future."
"Tourism is the most important industry in the Top End. This is an example of how Parks Australia North, the Traditional Owners and the tourism industry can work together to add value to all, including visitors," Mr Collery said.
Mr Cochrane said, "Recognising the tourism value and interest in access to the top of the spectacular escarpment in this region, we have also asked traditional owners to give a priority to identifying a safe walking track to suitable vantage points.
"In the past, access has required a long swim and scramble over boulders, which has restricted access. Under the proposed arrangements, there will be safer access for a wider range of visitors and address concerns over the growing risk of crocodiles in the area while better recognising the site's special cultural significance.
"A particularly exciting element of the plan is the Traditional Owners interest in sharing their stories and history of this area with park visitors," Mr Cochrane said.
"This is a strong feature of the experience at Uluru and a developing feature of Kakadu. We are keen to present more of this aspect of Kakadu's World Heritage values," Mr Cochrane said.
It is planned that the new arrangements will be in place by early June to ensure access for this coming dry season and will involve indigenous guides and business operators.
"Parks and Traditional Owners want to help reinvigorate tourism in the Top End by improving presentation of Kakadu's World Heritage natural and cultural values. Continuing improvements are important for the future of the region and we want to continue to work with stakeholders to increase visitor satisfaction."
Contact: Mr Peter Cochrane 0419 125 137