Nitmiluk Gorge has leapt ahead to be the NT's third most visited natural attraction.
Katherine Times has crunched the numbers in the wake of today's signing of a deal for a $351.7 million government funding agreement for Kakadu National Park.
With 200,000 visitors annually, Kakadu has slipped well behind Nitmiluk which had 263,500 visitors last year.
Even Elsey National Park (218,400) had more visitors than Kakadu.
Uluru remains the giant of the Territory's natural attraction with 370,408 visitors last year.
Litchfield benefits from its many accessible rock pools, waterfalls and relative proximity to Darwin to come in second with 331,300.
Visitor counts are generally made on traffic counters so the actual number of visitors may be much higher.
We have not included some of the numbers recorded at Darwin's parks like Casuarina (1,106,900) because it includes the whole length of the park, not one single natural attraction.
The tourist ranking places a context on today's $351.7 million government funding agreement for Kakadu National Park.
While the entire NT tourist industry, including Katherine, would benefit from an overdue upgrade to Kakadu, parks like Nitmiluk receive a fraction of the spending.
Nitmiluk's visitor centre has received a facelift this year as part of a $10 million tourist infrastructure investment by the NT Government.
There are also to be mountain bike tracks constructed, new walking paths, a new jetty, and other works at the park.
The local tourist industry has long called out for a bus link between Katherine and the gorge.
At Kakadu, with the Ranger Uranium Mine due to cease production in 2021, Jabiru's Mirrar Traditional Owners envisage their ancestral lands transforming into the tourism heart of Kakadu National Park; a sustainable, eco-destination that celebrates the oldest continuous culture on earth.
The Federal Government's $216.2 million investment over 10 years will support the establishment of a world heritage interpretive centre, along with a tourism masterplan, and road upgrades to boost year round accessibility to key sites within the Kakadu National Park. It will also support land remediation works following the closure of the mine.
The NT Government's $135.5 million will support the establishment of the Bininj Resource Centre, along with upgrades to local Jabiru infrastructure, a new power station, a government services hub, upgraded health clinic and a designated education precinct.
The two levels of government are co-investing to improve mobile phone coverage across Kakadu National Park.
The Jabiru Masterplan, informed by the Mirrar vision for the town, is supported by the independent Jabiru Business Case report, which estimates that in the first year of new attractions and development projects, Kakadu visitation numbers will increase by nearly 100,000.
Additionally, the report estimates 125 ongoing jobs will be created in Jabiru as a result of the planned development projects and initiatives.
Development opportunities include an eco-recreation hub, a wellness centre, a five-star lodge with glamping, a Lake Jabiru boardwalk and a croc-proof swimming enclosure.
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