New approach to tourism

REGIONAL Queensland is set to reap the biggest rewards from the State Government's new approach to tourism.

But the 12-month action plan has not come without controversy with the National Parks Association claiming the package could interfere with the national parks experience.

Following the inaugural tourism industry conference, Destination Q, in Cairns this week, the LNP and the Queensland Tourism Industry Council agreed on a 12-month future for tourism with the aim of increasing visitor expenditure to $30 billion by 2020.

National parks will be opened up and red-tape cut to allow more access, with the possibility of four-wheel-drive access flagged.

The Nature Conservation Act also will be reviewed in the next month to make way for eco-tourism, including possible resorts in previously no-go areas.

The agreement to open up parks to development has attracted a predictable response.

The National Parks Association of Queensland believes the idea of major infrastructure in national parks was contrary to the experience.

"People are going there for the unique landscape value of these parks," executive coordinator Paul Donatiu said.

"National parks are not about having every type of accommodation in them."

The expansion in tourism should benefit regional economies, Mr Donatiu said, including regional accommodation and hospitality providers located outside national parks.

The state government has put a major emphasis on working more closely with regional tourism organisations through hosting regional forums and doubling funding for the Regional Tourism Operator Grant Scheme.

Potential tourism projects also will be considered under the royalties for regions program.

Premier Campbell Newman pinpointed the tourism industry as a key pillar of the Queensland economy.

"The Action Plan, which targets red tape, attracting and retaining skilled workers, marketing strategies and access to national parks, is designed to kick start the tourism industry after what has been a very difficult period," he said.

A tourism working group will be established to focus on the 12-month plan.

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