GREAT BARRIER REEF
// Outlook Report 2014
Park Authority 20139
Figure 5.4 Number of tourism visitor days, 1994–2013 A ‘visitor day’ is a visit by one tourist for one day. For overnight visits, each day is counted separately (e.g. a three-day visit by a tourist to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park represents three visitor days). A part-day visit refers to visitors who undertake a trip of less than three hours, and free of charge visitors include young children and trade familiarisations. Ongoing improvements in the way environmental management charge information is recorded have progressively allowed more accurate differentiation of visitation. This figure does not include stand-alone coral viewing activities and scenic flights, estimated at more than 0.2 million per year. It also does not include the estimated 2.3 million passenger transfers conducted each year through the Region to and from islands. Source: Great Barrier Reef Marine
In 2013, a total of 1,887,317 visits were made to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park by tourists on commercial tourism operations, of which 1,382,530 were full day visits and 195,249 were part-day visits or visitors who did not pay the full Environmental Management Charge.9 While the overall number of visits has varied from year to year, the proportions between these three categories of visitation have remained relatively stable. In 2012, 66 per cent of tourism visitor days were carried by the 25 most active operators, 80 per cent were carried by 50 operators and 93 per cent by 100 operators. Many operations are small-scale and carry only small numbers of tourists (less than 10 people) or operate infrequently (less than 50 days per year). Management The conduct of all tourism operations continues to be closely managed in the Great Barrier Reef, focusing on the areas of highest use and sensitivity. Under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning Plan 2003, commercial marine tourism may be conducted in almost all zones and localities of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park so long as a Marine Parks permit has been obtained. Statutory plans of management for the Cairns Area, Hinchinbrook and the Whitsundays set out more detailed tourism management arrangements, including capping some permit types and defining maximum group and vessel sizes in individual locations. In addition, a range of site management arrangements and specific policies, such as those addressing permit latency, apply to tourism operations. As well as the mandatory management arrangements for commercial marine tourism, operators have the opportunity to demonstrate the achievement of best practice environmental, economic and social standards in their operations by becoming independently certified with the ECO Certification program managed by Ecotourism Australia. As part of its High Standard Tourism program, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority recognises certified operators through longer term permits, plus promotion on its website and at conferences and trade events.10 The number of Reef-based tourism operations that are certified as operating to high standards has increased from 44 in 2009 to 64 in 2013.11 This has resulted in approximately 64 per cent of commercial tourists visiting the Great Barrier Reef with ECO Certified operators in 2013 (Figure 5.5).9 While there is a small decrease (one per cent) in the proportion of tourists carried by ECO Certified operators between 2012 and 2013, the total number of tourists carried continues to increase.
Commercial marine tourism presents the values of the Reef to millions of visitors.
Tourism operators are active stewards of the Reef.
Green Island and surrounding reef are a popular tourism destination
© Matt Curnock