Kakadu closure would be ‘catastrophic’ says tourism boss
THE head of Top End Tourism says the threatened closure of the Kakadu National Park could have "catastrophic" impacts on the struggling industry.
Tourism operators at Kakadu are calling on Parks Australia to quickly resolve ongoing issues with Traditional Owners who are threatening to close the park over mismanagement concerns.
A Parks Australia spokesman said they acknowledged the issues raised by Traditional Owners and agreed that "significant change" was required going forward.
"Over the past six months, we've made changes to park management and operations to address the concerns raised," he said.
Top End Tourism general manager Glen Hingley said the operators couldn't afford the park to close in the current climate.
"We can't allow the mistrust that's built up to continue," Mr Hingley said.
"Hundreds of jobs depend on Kakadu; there's so much riding on it staying open.
"If it did close, the outcomes from the tourism industry and the broader economy would be catastrophic."
Kakadu Tourism chairman Rick Allert, who oversees the Crocodile Hotel and Cooinda Lodge, said they were confident issues would be resolved between the park's management and the Traditional Owners.
"With the federal government's $276 million investment in Kakadu's upgrade beginning this year, we are optimistic that many of the major issues will not only be resolved, but that access to key attractions for visitors will be enhanced," he said.
Environment Minister Sussan Ley said she would continue to work closely with Traditional Owners to ensure the park was managed in their interests and with respect to its living cultural heritage.
"As the Morrison Government invests a record $276 million in the future of Kakadu, Parks Australia is undergoing a number of changes to better meet the aspirations of the Bininj/Mungguy people at Kakadu and other Traditional Owner groups across its portfolio," she said.
Originally published as Kakadu closure would be 'catastrophic' says tourism boss