Great Barrier Reef open for business – tourists welcome

Most Great Barrier Reef tourism operators remain open for business as the majority of popular holiday locations are unaffected by flooding.

Tourists can still visit the beaches, island resorts and snorkeling and diving sites in Port Douglas, Cairns, the Whitsundays as well as many other locations along the Queensland coast that have not been affected by floods.

Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) Chief Executive Daniel Gschwind said there were misconceptions that most of the Great Barrier Reef was under threat from major flood plumes when at present only the Central Coast region had been directly affected.

"The Great Barrier Reef is a vast natural wonder, stretching over 2,300 kilometres - more than two thirds of the Queensland coast - from Bundaberg to the Torres Strait," Mr Gschwind said. "It covers more than 340,000 square kilometres and is bigger than the United Kingdom and roughly the same size as Japan.

"Presently the area affected by a major flood plume is localised to a part of the Central Coast off Queensland, which only covers a small percentage of the Great Barrier Reef.

"Each year the annual wet season creates minor flood plumes that do not impact on the normal operations of favorite tourism sites."

The Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators (AMPTO) Executive Director Col McKenzie said despite the flooding in the southern areas of Queensland almost all tourism destinations along the entire length of the Great Barrier Reef are still open for business.

"Cairns, Port Douglas, the Whitsundays and Townsville have not been affected by flooding and Heron Island, Mon Repos Turtle Experience, Bargara beaches, Lady Elliot Island and Lady Musgrave Island are also open and ready to welcome visitors," Mr McKenzie said.

GBRMPA's General Manager of Marine Park Management Andrew Skeat said the Authority was closely monitoring the impact of flood plumes on the affected areas of the Great Barrier Reef and providing up-to-date information to the tourism industry.

"At present, a fresh water flood plume has spread from the Fitzroy River about 45 kilometres off the Central Coast of Queensland," Mr Skeat said. "Other parts of the Great Barrier Reef, including the Whitsundays, Port Douglas, Cairns and Townsville are not currently being affected by these unusual flood events."  

Tourists are advised to check with local tour operators or the websites of Tourism Queensland ( or QTIC ( for further details about flood-affected areas.