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Leasing and Licensing

Permits, licences and leases (collectively referred to as concessions) when used in conjunction with planning and visitor management frameworks can be effective in reducing visitor impacts in high use and sensitive areas, providing satisfying experiences for visitors, separating potentially conflicting activities, encouraging responsible behaviour, and providing assistance in collection of visitor and management data. Read more

Permits, licences and leases (collectively referred to as concessions) when used in conjunction with 'planning' and 'management frameworks' can be effective in reducing visitor impacts in high use and sensitive areas, providing satisfying experiences for visitors, separating potentially conflicting activities, encouraging responsible behaviour, and providing assistance in collection of visitor and management data (see Managing Protected Areas).

Recent research into some of the issues affecting licensed nature tour operations in Australian protected areas indicate:

  • The frustrations of the nature tourism industry with state licensing requirements, while present, are not extreme;
  • The licensing framework for nature tour operators within each state involves multiple state government agencies each with their own set of licensing procedures;
  • Due to the fragmented nature of the current licensing system, compliance costs on those being regulated is high. While the compliance costs associated with each individual licence may be small, cumulatively they are an impediment to business especially when added to the other forms of regulation impacting businesses;
  • Many tour operators are small businesses. This may contribute to some tour operators not appreciating the reasons behind the licensing framework or lacking the business skills to efficiently address compliance with government regulation;
  • A shift from a one-way communication dominated model to a more collaborative problem solving approach would contribute to tour operators being regarded as partners rather than adversaries or problem makers. A requirement of collaborative approaches is that all parties (e.g. agencies and tour operators) are willing to invest time and energy in building and maintaining strong working relationships. Some of the licensing agencies have already started to embrace two-way communication and relationship building with nature tour operators;
  • Over time, a greater focus on agency-industry relationship building will aid in breaking down barriers arising from any negative stereotypes held by agencies or operators. A mutual understanding of the different costs and benefits licensing creates for each party will help build these relationships. (link to partnerships section); and
  • Licensing can play an important role in ensuring that increased pressure from nature tourism does not unacceptably impact on conservation values. If conflict is to be minimised, decisions regarding the number of licences and how they will be allocated will need to be transparent, equitable, and supported by good science.
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