Tourism Master Plan 2009-2014 | Kakadu National Park


Kakadu Board of Management, 2010


Following the development of Shared Vision Principles in 2004, the Kakadu National Park Management Plan 2007-2014 identified the need for a Tourism Master Plan as a high priority. The Tourism Master Plan was subsequently commenced by Janet Mackay of Planning for People in 2006 in consultation with the Kakadu National Park Board of Management, Kakadu traditional owners (Bininj/Mungguy) and representatives of the tourism industry, in particular the Kakadu Tourism Consultative Committee.

Following release of the draft Tourism Master Plan for a two-month public exhibition period in September 2008, the Master Plan has been further developed by Parks Australia staff to take into account the issues raised in public submissions and further input by the Kakadu National Park Board of Management.


Kakadu National Park is Aboriginal land. Located in the top end of Australia's Northern Territory, it has been home to Indigenous people for more than 50 000 years. The people of this culture, Bininj in the north and Mungguy in the south, have always cared for the land.

Kakadu is an ancient landscape of exceptional beauty and great diversity. It stretches over 20 000 square kilometres, from mangrove-fringed tidal plains in the north to vast floodplains, lowland hills and the sandstone cliffs of the Arnhem Land escarpment. The park is ecologically and biologically diverse. Teeming with wildlife in the water, on the land and in the air, the country displays a range and concentration of species seen nowhere else. The evolving landscape takes on different forms and colours with the passing of each of its six seasons.

As a national park, Kakadu is managed in accordance with the IUCN (World Conservation Union) reserve management principles. These include preservation of the land in its natural condition and recognition of traditional owners in terms of their aspirations for the land, continuing land management practices, protection and maintenance of cultural heritage and benefit from enterprises established in the park.

Kakadu's cultural and natural values were internationally recognised when it was placed on the World Heritage List. The convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage focuses on identifying, protecting and conserving cultural or natural features of outstanding universal value. Large areas of Kakadu are listed as wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention and there are many species that occur in the park which are protected under international agreements. All major 'Top End' habitats are represented within the park. These unique values attract visitors from around the world to visit the park.

Australian tourism is a major export industry and Kakadu contributes to both the national economy and regional economy in the Top End of the Northern Territory. At the time of writing, global financial markets are uncertain and a downturn in international tourism has been predicted for the short to medium term. Kakadu National Park will be increasingly important in ensuring the economic viability of the tourism industry during this period.

Kakadu is one of a suite of national parks in the Top End of the Northern Territory and contributes to the variety of tourism experiences in the Top End. No national park can be all things to all people and Kakadu plays an important role in the Northern Territory both in its own right and in terms of its relationship with regional neighbours as a gateway to Arnhem Land and as a neighbour to Nitmiluk National Park and lands adjoining the park in the south and west.

Appreciation, enjoyment and understanding of Kakadu's unique values are an important component of managing the World Heritage Area. Bininj are proud to share their country with visitors and welcome tourism opportunities.

It is recognised that this must be done in a way that ensures the integrity of the natural and cultural values of the park. The management challenge is to balance tourism with the park's cultural and conservation values.