High Standard Tourism

Operating to a high standard can bring tangible benefits - for your business, for your clients, for the tourism industry as a whole and for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

As a first step to achieving high standards, please become familiar with the Responsible Reef Practices for the Marine Park and adopt them in your operating practices. Many operators already follow all or some of these practices in their daily operations; even in this case, please check each activity to see if there is anything else you could be doing.

Becoming certified with a recognised certification scheme allows you to test your operating standards against a national benchmark and provides formal recognition of your high standards. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) offers benefits to appropriately certified operators.

You can also do your bit to help look after the Marine Park by reporting any incidents that you see, recording unusual sightings and participating in our partnership monitoring programs.

What makes me high standard?

Your operation can be recognised as a high standard tourism operation by GBRMPA if you demonstrate you are certified with an approved external certification scheme. That means you have attained the required level of best practice in various aspects of your operation. GBRMPA can then invite to join GBRMPA’s high standard tourism program.

There are two recognised independent certification schemes – administered by Ecotourism Australia, and by EarthCheck – as providing appropriate levels of environmental certification for high standard tourism in the Marine Park.

Other certification schemes may be approved in the future.

What benefits are there?

Initially, GBRMPA is offering high standard operators an extended permit term of 15 years. Once you are certified, you may wish to apply for a 15-year permit for your certified tourism product.

Certified operators are also showcased on the GBRMPA website and at trade events such as the Australian Tourism Exchange.

How do I become certified?

Tourism businesses that are operating to a high standard in the Marine Park can apply to become certified, by contacting either EarthCheck or Ecotourism Australia and demonstrating that their operations meet the required levels of their scheme.

Interested Marine Park tourism operators are encouraged to review the available schemes and levels of certification and choose a scheme and certification level that best suits their own operations.

Are my certified operations monitored?

Your operation may be monitored through an auditing process. 

What happens if I don't maintain the standards?

Both Ecotourism Australia and EarthCheck keep GBRMPA up-to-date with outcomes of its auditing and complaints investigations.

What if I am concerned about an operator?

If you are concerned that a certified Marine Parks operator is not operating to the high standards required in the certification programs, please notify GBRMPA through our incident report online form or contact the certification schemes detailing your concerns. They will thoroughly investigate your complaint and possibly contact you for further information.

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