ECO-TOURISM opportunities abound in North Queensland with the Hinchinbrook region ripe for the pickings.
Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said locals were supportive of plans to open up the region to eco-tourism ventures including sustainable development of national parks.
"Eco-tourism is the sleeping giant of Hinchinbrook that is ready to be awakened," Mr Dametto said.
"Local businesses will be well placed to be part of a once in a lifetime opportunity in developing an eco-tourism experience on the Thorsborne Trail, through which the state government is working with prospective private operators to deliver.
"Towns like Cardwell, Lucinda and Ingham would benefit immensely from this sort of industry, where economies are otherwise stagnant.
"Diversification is a buzz word that usually gets thrown around a lot but we can't just rely on agriculture, we need those supporting industries and eco-tourism is the real deal."
Mr Dametto said eco-tourism could help unlock Hinchinbrook's full potential.
"There's no reason why we can't be the world's next must-see adventure tourism destination," he said.
"However, from my experience in running a water-based tourism business the key to success is all tidal access. This would need to be restored to Dungeness and Cardwell. You can't run a business waiting on the tide.
"I have also echoed Hinchinbrook Shire Mayor Ramon Jayo's call to the state government to add Wallaman Falls to the list of potential national park sites that could be commercialised to add to the visitor experience.
"Worldwide there is growing demand for new, unique and low-impact eco-tourism products. Tasmania has led the way in Australia, allowing provisions for the building of facilities in national parks that enhance the tourism product. This has been instrumental in attracting more domestic and international visitors and has turned their economy around.
"I believe we can strike the right balance here between management of national park values and visitor attraction. The Thorsborne Trail is already one of the top 10 multi-day hikes in the world and a low-impact, sustainable eco-tourism experience would only enhance this."
Mr Dametto last week tabled a petition in state parliament which gathered a combined 259 signatures in its paper and online forms, which he said proved there was a strong appetite in the local community to grow this exciting industry.
The petition has been since referred to Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones for a formal response by no later than June 17.