Indigenous participation in tourism
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have connections to sea country in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Tourism is the major economic activity in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and has the potential to become an increasingly important industry for Indigenous communities adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef.
What is Indigenous tourism?
Indigenous tourism can mean many things:
- Tourism specifically to interpret Indigenous cultures and stories
- Indigenous people directly operating or investing in tourism operations
- Business partnerships between Indigenous organisations and tourism operators
- Indigenous people employed in tourism operations
- Mainstream tourism incorporating Indigenous culture and stories to enhance their programs
- Indigenous input into the way tourism is managed.
There are many opportunities for Indigenous people to participate in marine tourism to the benefit of both Indigenous communities and the tourism industry. At the same time, greater participation by Indigenous communities can contribute to the care and development of the Marine Park.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's role
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) has a Position Statement that explains its partnership role in fostering Indigenous participation in tourism and its management.
GBRMPA, Tourism Queensland and the Queensland Department of the Environment and Heritage Protection are working with Indigenous groups plus other government agencies and tourism operators to enhance Indigenous participation.
The joint long-term vision is:
- Indigenous people owning, operating and being involved in tourism operations in the Marine Park
- Indigenous participation in the way tourism is managed.
Opportunities for participation in tourism
In addition to the range of opportunities and permits available throughout the Marine Park, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has specifically identified 18 Indigenous marine tourism permits allowing everyday operation within the Whitsundays (ten permits), Hinchinbrook (three permits) and Cairns (five permits) Planning Areas.
The permits are an opportunity for Indigenous people to build exciting and viable marine tourism businesses, and build relationships with existing operators. There are special arrangements for the allocation of the special Indigenous marine tourism permits.
Tourism industry involvement
There are a number of ways in which members of the tourism industry can foster Indigenous participation in tourism. There are guidelines to help operators support local Indigenous communities and engage with those communities about tourism in the Marine Park.
If you're heading out on the water, download and use the free zoning app so you know where you can go and what you can do.
We're delighted to celebrate the 40 years of the managing the Great Barrier Reef.
Visit our Great Barrier Reef and discover its amazing animals, plants, and habitats.
Everyone has a role to play in protecting our Great Barrier Reef. Find out what you can do to help protect this great Australian icon.
If you see sick, dead or stranded marine animals please call RSPCA QLD 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625)
A Vulnerability Assessment: of the issues that could have far-reaching consequences for the Great Barrier Reef.
Current Conditions: Environmental and climatic forecasts for the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is under pressure. Many people, including Reef Guardians, are making a difference.
Become a marine scientist for a day Download our free app to share your sightings.
Published every five years, our Outlook Report provides an overview of Reef health and management.
Learn more about how the Australian and Queensland are managing the Reef through Reef 2050.