Commercial Tour Operators

Any company, organisation or individual proposing to carry out commercial activities within the parks system requires a licence.

Commercial activities may include guided tours, instructional or educational courses and leisure activities that are conducted for fee or reward. Commercial activities that take place in our national parks include:

  • bushwalking
  • camping
  • four-wheel driving
  • observing wildlife
  • fishing
  • rockclimbing and abseiling
  • coach and bus tours
  • boating activities
  • birdwatching

Commercial Tour Operator fees update

In recognition of the severe impacts experienced by tour operators because of COVID-19, the Department for Environment and Water is holding off on the usual licence and visitor use fee increases that occur on 1 April each year.

This year’s fee increases have been deferred to 1 July 2021. This means that if you renew your licence before the end of June you will qualify to pay the 2020 licence fee.

Similarly, for tours taken between 1 April and 30 June 2021, the 2020 visitor use fees for park entry and camping will apply.

Note that visitor use fees from 1 April 2020 to 31 December 2020 and CTO licence fees from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021 were waived.

For a complete listing of licence and visitor use fees click here.

Commercial Tour Operator Licensing and Permitting Policy

The Commercial Tour Operator Licensing and Permitting Policy enhances opportunities for tourism businesses in South Australia's parks and reserves. The policy was finalised in March 2011 after input from many tour operators.

Why are licences required?

Pursuant to regulation 36(b) of the National Parks and Wildlife (National Parks) Regulations 2016 (the Regulations) anyone conducting tours in South Australia's national parks for fee or reward require a commercial tour operator licence.

Licensing is an important management tool which:

  • allows DEW to monitor access and use of lands to ensure the natural and cultural values of protected areas are maintained
  • ensures that visitors have a safe and rewarding experience.

Under the Regulations, penalties of up to $5,000 exist for operators that conduct tours in a park without a licence or breach licence conditions.

How long does a licence last?

Commercial Tour Operator (CTO) Licences are available for periods from two months to five years. The fees are based on administrative costs and with the exception of the two month option (which begins from the date of issue) will expire on 31 March of the relevant year, regardless of when the licence is issued. E.g a one year licence issued in December will expire 31 March the following year.

Terms and conditions

See the terms and conditions that apply to a licence granted by the Minister for Environment and Water.

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