Reef tourism operators recognised for going the extra mile

A commitment to best practice tourism in the Great Barrier Reef is stronger than ever as the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and Ecotourism Australia announce their renewed partnership.

The announcement is to be made at the Global Eco Asia-Pacific Tourism Conference in Sydney tomorrow (8 November), ahead of World Responsible Tourism Day.

The agreement sees Ecotourism Australia continue to independently assess and certify Great Barrier Reef tourism operators that operate to a high standard in the Marine Park.

GBRMPA Chairman Russell Reichelt said Ecotourism Australia’s program encouraged tourism operations to adopt best practices and reassured visitors their experiences were sustainable and helped look after the Reef.

“I’m delighted we are continuing to work with Ecotourism Australia – they independently recognise and certify tourism operators protecting the Great Barrier Reef,” he said.

“The Great Barrier Reef is a premier tourism destination and this program helps ensure over half the visitors to this iconic attraction are choosing a high standard operator.

“We applaud tourism operators that go the extra mile to ensure they do the very best for the environment and their guests, as well as giving back to Marine Park management.

“The Great Barrier Reef faces many pressures and partnerships such as this, and the good work of the tourism industry, are vital ingredients for the future of the Reef.”

There are now 52 Eco Certified operators in the High Standard Tourism Program, with over 60 per cent of the visitors to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park using ecocertified operators.

Ecotourism Australia CEO Kym Cheatham said ecologically sustainable tourism focuses on experiencing natural areas to foster environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation.

“The ECO Certification logo is globally recognised and gives environmentally responsible travellers the confidence they are making informed choices," she said.

“We encourage visitors to use this program to identify operators with good environmental credentials to help minimise their impact on the marine environment they come to experience.

“Tourism operators help enhance visitor experiences of the Great Barrier Reef and play an important role in protecting the amazing biodiversity that supports their industry and presenting World Heritage values.

 “Millions of people visit this natural treasure each year and sustainable use of the marine environment is important to ensure the area is protected for the future.”

The partnership between GBRMPA and Ecotourism Australia began in 2004 to encourage best practice marine tourism on the Great Barrier Reef.

Tourism operations can apply to become certified by contacting Ecotourism Australia. Certified operators are recognised and rewarded by GBRMPA, including with an extended permit term of 15 years.