High standard tourism

The agency encourages tourism operations to adopt high standards for protection, presentation and partnership within the Marine Park. These standards enhance environmental protection, reef resilience and tourism sustainability.

We rely on independent certification to identify high standard operations. 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.

Both of these certification schemes identify and monitor high standard tourism operations. Other certification schemes may be approved in the future, based on standard assessment criteria and a simple assessment process.

How can operators obtain certification?

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.

Ecotourism Australia and EarthCheck each provide two levels of certification that are acceptable under the agency's assessment criteria for high standard tourism operations:

  1. High standard tourism operations can be certified by Ecotourism Australia, at either the Ecotourism or Advanced Ecotourism levels.
  2. EcoCertified Tourism logo

  3. High standard tourism operators can be certified by EarthCheck at either the EarthCheck Certified or EarthCheck Evaluate levels. Look for these logos:
  4. EarthCheck silver logoEarthCheck-Eco-rating-4-stars

Are there benefits to becoming certified?

The agency has developed benefits to both reward high standard operators and provide incentives for other operators to improve their performance. The major benefit offered by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) is an extended permit term of 20 years for tourism program permits.

Operators who are certified by either of the above schemes and qualify to become a recognised high standard tourism operator, can be eligible to apply for a 20-year permit for a certified tourism product. Applicants will need to complete the Marine Parks permit application form and provide evidence of their certification. The application will be assessed as per standard assessment timeframes and an assessment fee will apply.

In addition, certified operators are listed on our website and are showcased at various trade events (for example, the Australian Tourism Exchange).