The Hon Tony Burke MP
Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
The Hon. Martin Ferguson AM MP
Minister for Resources and Energy
Minister for Tourism
Refocusing tourism in the wet tropics
8 August 2012
The Wet Tropics have been recognised as one of Australia's premier tourism destinations, with the region today announced as Australia's 14th National Landscape.
The move has been driven by small tourism businesses and conservationists from Daintree to Townsville, seeking to deliver a sustainable and vibrant future for the region.
Australia's National Landscapes Program identifies Australia's best nature destinations, helps locals refocus and refine what they're offering visitors, and then markets that natural competitive advantage to the world. It is led by a partnership between Tourism Australia and Parks Australia.
Environment Minister Tony Burke and Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson said the Wet Tropics deserved its spot amongst the 'best of nature' in Australia.
"The Wet Tropics has long been one of our great eco-tourism destinations, and through Australia's National Landscapes Program the local community is building on that," Mr Burke said.
"The region includes World Heritage listed rainforests that give us a fascinating insight into the way Australia's plants and animals have evolved since the breakup of Gondwana 35 million years ago. Cassowaries, the mahogany glider, frogs, bats, tree kangaroos and wallabies are among the distinctive species with profound stories of evolution and survival - many found nowhere else on earth.
"I first got involved in politics because of the importance of protecting the Daintree rainforest. A generation later it's still pristine, it's still magnificent and welcoming tourists from around the world.
"This is a part of the country that is close to my heart and I'm delighted to see the community continuing to innovate and finding new ways to showcase this beautiful place. By recognising how intriguing and exciting Australian nature is to our visitors, the community will focus increased attention on this wonderful region, and participation in Australia's National Landscapes is a big part of that.
"Local tour operators and conservationists are passionate advocates for this region – many of them are involved in the industry specifically because it allows them to go out into the rainforest or Tablelands environment every day. They want to help a new generation of visitors fall in love with this place and become champions for its protection."
Minister Ferguson said the Wet Tropics National Landscape profiles Australia's competitive advantage and is a chance for the region to reach a global audience with the strength of a unified voice.
"Today is the culmination of so much hard work – locals from the tourism and conservation sectors getting together to sharpen the region's appeal for visitors," Mr Ferguson said.
"With good growth in visitation across tropical Queensland, there's no denying the appeal of this region for visitors. Their National Landscapes planning will make the most of that, helping the Wet Tropics thrive well into the future.
"To get to this point the region had to identify the crux of what makes the Wet Tropics special. The next step is to develop new experiences, including opportunities for visitors to help conserve the natural environment – all helped by a recent Australian Government Strategic Tourism Investment Grant, which will develop the tools and mentoring arrangements necessary to bring these great ideas to fruition."
The nature and culture on offer in the Wet Tropics will feature prominently in Tourism Australia's international marketing. It now joins 13 other National Landscapes, including Australia's Red Centre, the Kimberley and the Great Barrier Reef.
For more information visit www.tourism.australia.com/nl .