Posted on 01. Jul, 2010 in Victoria

Entry to all of Victoria’s national parks and metropolitan parks will be free from today, Environment and Climate Change Minister Gavin Jennings said today.

At Werribee Park, Mr Jennings said the Brumby Labor Government had abolished parks fees to boost tourism by encouraging more families to explore Victoria’s great outdoors and to promote healthy living.

Mr Jennings also announced an expansion of the Parks Victoria Bilingual Guides program which provides accredited training to leaders in different communities and presented certificates to this year’s graduates.

“Victoria has some of the most stunning parks in the world and we want to ensure all Victorians can access them and to attract even more interstate and overseas visitors,” Mr Jennings said.

“Our local tourism industry provides jobs for almost 185,000 people and injects about $16 billion into Victoria’s economy. It is important we provide growth in this vital sector by encouraging more people to spend time in Victoria’s stunning parks when they visit our cities and towns.

“From today there will be free entry to any national park or metropolitan park in our state. This includes Wilsons Promontory, Point Nepean and Mount Buffalo national parks, the National Rhododendron Gardens, William Ricketts Sanctuary and Werribee Park.

“These parks had fees of up to $10 for individuals and up to $40 for families but from today everyone will be able to get out and enjoy the benefits of our parks without charge.

“I would also like to congratulate the graduates of the Bilingual Guides program who are leaders in different communities and who will use their skills to support their communities to confidently and responsibly use these public spaces.”

Mr Jennings said Parks Victoria estimates that removing entry fees can increase visitor numbers by 25 per cent to 50 per cent at most parks in the state.

He said removing park entry fees built on the Victorian Government’s record investments in protecting and enhancing Victoria’s parks and attracting visitors to regional areas which includes 11 national parks in the past decade to protect the landscapes of the Box-Ironbark Forests, the Otways and the Cobboboonee in the South West.
“We have also set up comprehensive marine national park protected areas, redeveloped Queenscliff Harbour, opened up the Quarantine Station at Point Nepean National Park and set up the ex-HMAS Canberra as a popular diving site,” he said.

“And this week the River Red Gum National Parks and regional parks along the Murray River were proclaimed to protect our iconic river red gum trees which are threatened by drought.”

Mr Jennings said those actions were in addition to a new $36 million tourism package to drive-up interstate and international visitors to regional and rural areas that was a key part of the Victorian Government’s $631 million Ready for Tomorrow: A Blueprint for Regional and Rural Victoria.

Listen to the Premier:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPS5r5OVvIQ&feature=player_embedded#!

For more information visit Regional Development Victoria – http://www.rdv.vic.gov.au/

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