People flocking to our national parks

Environment Minister Robyn Parker has welcomed the results of the National Parks and Wildlife Service Park Visitation and Volunteering survey that showed 35.5 million visits to national parks across NSW in 2012 - a five per cent increase (1.7 million).

Ms Parker said that investment in walking tracks, lookouts, accommodation and new facilities is providing more access and opportunity for people to enjoy the diverse, precious and unique natural environment our national parks provide.

"Our parks play a critical role in the protection of our biodiversity and natural landscapes and we believe people are at the heart of our conservation goals," Ms Parker said.

"We have declared seven new national parks or reserves in the past two year, providing greater protection for the environment and allowing more people an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.

"At the Cape Bryon Lighthouse we've removed the tour fee and introduced a voluntary donation - we have since seen visitor numbers increase tenfold.

"We're exploring new ways of reusing historic buildings in a way that showcases their history and protects their environmental and heritage values. "At Audley in the Royal National Park, the dance hall has been revitalised and now contains a great visitor centre and cafe - and our visitors are really enjoying the upgraded facilities.

"These are fantastic demonstrations of how a new perspective can have dramatic results.

"These results say we are getting it right and offering services and facilities that people are enjoying and that's great feedback for our park managers.

"We have seen the number of visits to parks in Western NSW increase to their highest levels ever recorded with people flocking to our beautiful outback regions.

"The survey also helps us get a better understanding of park visitors and visitation trends and this helps us plan our park experiences to meet the community's expectations and preferences.

"Volunteering is another way people can experience national parks and over 6,500 volunteers participated in national park volunteering activities in 2012.

"The new visitor website for National Parks is providing visitors with significantly more content, simple-to-navigate functionality and an inspirational look and feel.

"The website has already attracted close to 1.5 million visits in 2012/13, with more than 24,000 bookings for 84,000 room nights on the online booking system."

Visitors can find information on parks, a range of activities, tours, events, places to stay and volunteer opportunities at the NSW National Parks website - nationalparks.nsw.gov.au

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