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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Calls for management plan to be updated

HINCHINBROOK MP Nick Dametto has called for a full review of the Hinchinbrook Island National Park Management Plan 2017 to improve management and encourage economic growth in the region.

The Hinchinbrook Island National Park Management Plan 2017 guides the management of the area, providing a structure for strategic planning, monitoring, and evaluating performance, and reporting on the effectiveness of management actions over time. 

Mr Dametto believes the Management Plan should be reviewed every five to 10 years and said the current plan is outdated.  

Mr Dametto is advocating for those who believe that the current plan fails to address the issues with the Island’s booking system and to better support tourism operators and increase local economic growth.

“The 2023-24 State Budget allocated $1.5 million to upgrade and build new nature-based experiences and facilities along Hinchinbrook Island’s Thorsborne Trail,” he said.

“The upgrades will hopefully increase island visitation, which means we must act to resolve the current issues that tourist operators and visitors are experiencing with the current booking system.”

Mr Dametto said in some cases, visitors have to wait up to six months to hike the Thorsborne Trail due to the lack of availability with permits being capped at 40 per night.

“It is my understanding that the lack of availability isn’t always a result of there being 40 persons camping on the Island each night, it’s due to people not cancelling their booking when their travel plans change,” he said.

“Bookings to camp on the Thorsborne Trail are made via the Queensland National Parks website, fees are $7.25 per person/night or $29.00 per family/night and it’s been said that the low-cost camping fees could be attributing to the issue of people not cancelling their bookings.

“I’m not interested in increasing the Queensland National Parks fees for the trail however, I do think that the booking system for the Thorsborne Trail needs to be reviewed in order to increase visitor numbers.

The Thorsborne Trail is one of the world’s top 10 walks and Mr Dametto believes hikers are missing out on the opportunity which in turn affects local small businesses and hinders the growth of the region’s tourism sector.

The Hinchinbrook MP said he recently met with ministerial and departmental staff and stressed that this problem must progress past just talking. 

“We must move swiftly to improve the visitor experience for those visiting the island or camping on the Thorsborne Trail and this could only be achieved by a full review of the Hinchinbrook Island Management Plan,” Mr Dametto said.

Keep up with the latest news in Cairns and the Far North, and check out some of our top stories this week: Locals support Cairns comedy and Leichhardt Lions clinch final for second year in a row.

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