CAMPERS could be forced to pay more to stay in the Grampians National Park and several other parks across the Wimmera.
The State Government released a proposal on Wednesday to lift camping fees at some sites and to start charging people to stay at 109 of Victoria’s free campsites by 2015.
The proposal could see Grampians National Park campsite fees increase from $17.90 a night for six people to up to $50 during peak season.
Fees for camping in the Little Desert National Park could rise to $38 a night, while camping costs could hit $18 in the Mt Arapiles-Tooan State Park.
Under the proposal, visitors to Wyperfeld National Park’s campsites will have to pay for the first time with fees between $13 and $38.
Visitors wanting to stay in the Black Range State Park west of the Grampians could require a camping pass, which would cost $17.40 a night for a single vehicle or $121.70 a year.
Environment Minister Ryan Smith said the increased fees would help cover the cost of maintaining campsites.
“There are 133 parks and reserves across Victoria and only 24 charge a fee for the use of facilities,” he said.
“This has resulted in the cost of providing and maintaining these facilities outstripping the revenue generated by more than $10 million each and every year.
“By introducing a system where users pay for the standard of facilities and services provided at camping grounds, Parks Victoria will have the money needed to operate within its means.”
Grampians Tourism chief executive Will Flamsteed said Parks Victoria needed money to maintain Victoria’s national parks.
“If you want to use a national park, at some point there is going to be a cost – it either comes out of taxes or from a user-pays system,” he said.
“A user-pays system is probably seen as a fair way of managing national parks.
“The Department of Environment and Primary Industries is considering how to best manage the services and if that requires pay-to-use camping, we would certainly look at supporting that.”
But Opposition environment and climate change spokeswoman Lisa Neville said the increased fees could stop families holidaying in national parks.
“The writing is on the wall and the Napthine government looks like it will push ahead with these massive fee hikes for families to pitch a tent in parks that have previously been free,” she said.
“This is a badly-thought-out policy with the cost of recouping the fees likely to cost more than what the Napthine government will receive in fees.
“Victorian families who camp in our national parks have every right to be asking the government how these fees will improve their national park experience.”