Tourism Opportunities Available in the Whitsunday Planning Area

There are seven different tourism permit types available in the Whitsundays Planning Area:

Read about each type below.

Permit Types Available in the Whitsunday Planning Area

Standard Tour Operations - vessels (70 metres or less) or aircraft

  • allows 50 days access each year to the Whitsunday Planning Area subject to a booking (20 bookings are allowed each day)
  • allows daily access (without a booking) for low impact operations such as non-motorised craft
  • allows daily access (without a booking) for passenger transport operations
  • allows aircraft to visit any location twice per week (more within Regular Aircraft Landing Areas)
  • must abide by settings
  • does not allow access to Setting 5 areas.

Regional Tour Operations - vessels (70 metres or less) or aircraft

  • allows daily access (without a booking) to the Whitsunday Planning Area
  • allows access to setting 1-4 areas, may be endorsed to provide greater access above the group size limit
  • may be endorsed to access setting 5 areas
  • allows aircraft to visit any location twice per week (more within Regular Aircraft Landing Areas)

Note: Generally, the GBRMPA is not granting additional Regional Tour Operation permits. The Plan allows for a small number of new permits and the timing for the release of these will be based on input from the community and industry. Any permits that become available will be allocated through an expressions of interest process. Contact the GBRMPA to keep up-to-date about available permits. Existing permits are tradeable, but the transfer must be approved by the GBRMPA. Your local tourism association may have information on any existing permits that are available for transfer.

Long Range Roving Operations - vessels (no more than 35 metres)

  • allows 100 days access each year to the Whitsunday Planning Area with no more than 2 days in any 7-day period at any one location
  • allows up to 30 passengers (a greater number can be taken on up to 10 days per year, with written notification to the GBRMPA)
  • is limited to whole vessel charter with no fixed schedule.

Note: The GBRMPA is not granting additional Long Range Roving Operation permits. Any permits that become available will be allocated through an expressions of interest process. Contact the GBRMPA to keep up-to-date about available permits. Existing permits are tradeable, but the transfer must be approved by the GBRMPA. Your local tourism association may have information on any existing permits that are available for transfer.

Craftless Operations - operations (e.g. dive schools) who operate from the beach or who 'piggy back' on other vessels to go to the reef

  • does not allow for the independent operation of a vessel or aircraft, though the permittee may travel onboard other operations
  • allows daily access to the Whitsunday Planning Area, subject to the same access and activity conditions as the permitted vessel or aircraft that is being used for entry to the Whitsunday Planning Area.

Bareboat Operations - hire of vessels (more than 6 metres)

  • allows daily access to the Whitsunday Planning Area

Note: The GBRMPA is not granting additional Bareboat Operation permits. Any permits that become available will be allocated through an expressions of interest process. Contact the GBRMPA to keep up-to-date about available permits. Existing permits are tradeable, but the transfer must be approved by the GBRMPA. Your local tourism association may have information on any existing permits that are available for transfer.

Hire Operations - hire craft (less than 6 metres) and hire equipment (e.g. beach hire)

  • allows daily access to the Whitsunday Planning Area
  • allows hiring of hire craft and equipment in Setting 1 areas.

Cruise Ship Operations - vessels (more than 70 metres)

  • allows 50 days access each year to the Whitsunday Planning Area subject to a booking (three bookings are allowed each day)
  • allows cruise ships to anchor at cruise ship anchorages with a booking
  • allows for one cruise ship to access a cruise ship anchorage at any one time (except for Turtle Bay). 

About Permits

  • If you wish to commence operating in the area, please make sure you understand about Marine Parks permits and how to apply.

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