Katherine has never had it easy when it comes to attracting interstate and overseas tourists - now one of its biggest jewels, Nitmiluk National Park, could be slapped with a fee from 2022.
The NT Government has confirmed some of the Territory's most popular national parks, including Litchfield National Park and Nitmiluk, will be locked behind fees for international and interstate visitors, as part of a budget repair measure.
The finer details are expected to be ironed out on Tuesday during cabinet meetings, but the government has confirmed Territorians will not be charged.
A spokeswoman for NT's Parks and Rangers Minister Selena Uibo said the fees "provide funds for improvements to our parks and reserves".
"As part of our work to improve and protect our parks and reserves, the government is reviewing current fee arrangements and booking systems," she said.
"In the coming months, we will be consulting with traditional owners, tourism operators and other stakeholders about a new online booking system and fee arrangements."
She stressed that park fees in the NT have not increased for the past 20 years and any changes will not begin until July 2021.
"Importantly, for Territorians making day trips to iconic places like Litchfield and Nitmiluk, nothing will change. It will stay free," she said.
"There would have to be a "very considered approach for this not to be a negative," the Chamber of Commerce's Katherine regional manager Colin Abbott said.
"We've just had the biggest hit to tourism recently and this could just be perceived as another fee by tourists.
"If people are asked to pay a couple of dollars to get into parks, it is not going to be so significant, but if they are asked to pay a substantial fee, they are potentially going to question the additional cost - for some families this could be significant, so that added cost could be an issue."
As the voice of a number of businesses in and around Katherine, including a multitude of tourism operators, Mr Abbott said the Chamber would be supportive of the proposal "as long as the fees are not going to have a negative impact on our members".
"If the fees are fed back into park amenities and facilities...the proposal may be a positive outcome for Katherine."
Tourism operator Denis Hannah has carted visitors to and from the pristine natural wonders surrounding Katherine for years and said the fees would be "counter productive", especially as Australia struggles to survive a tourism industry void of international tourists.
"When you're encouraging people to go places - where they will spend big money - you don't put up obstacles," he said.
On a day to day basis he says he receives a stream of feedback from tourists who have visited Kakadu National Park, where visitors are charged and numbers have been on the decline for the past decade. "I call it Kaka-don't," he said.
"The fee might have reduced to $25, but I still get complaints about it."
Graeme and Leonie Potts, interstate travellers from Tin Can Bay, a coastal town in the Wide Bay-Burnett region of Queensland, said they would happily pay a small fee for a day of swimming at Nitmiluk or Litchfield, but had bypassed other hotspots which required payment.
"Cradle Mountain, we didn't go," Mr Potts said.
"My view on parks is, the government services them for Australians to enjoy, so we shouldn't have to pay to stop in for 10 minutes to have a look and eat lunch.
"To spend a whole day swimming and exploring and hiking at Litchfield or Nitmiluk, I wouldn't mind paying two or three dollars though."
Marianne Bates, the owner of Shady Lane Tourist Park, a popular campground which sits on the outskirts of Katherine on the road to Nitmiluk National Park, said Australians shouldn't have to dig into their pockets to see their backyard.
"I don't agree with park fees," she said.
She said she is concerned that fees could be a deterrent to visitors who already question a three hour drive to Katherine from the NT's capital.
"When our tourists come, they already think it's expensive."