Tourism visitation to the entire Great Barrier Reef Marine Park for the financial year ending 30 June 2021 was reported at 1,134,500 visitor days.  This is a decrease of around 52% when compared to the previous 8 year pre-COVID average (2011-12 to 2018-19).  These figures do not include transfer passengers.

Since February 2020, COVID-19 has played a significant part in the decline of visitor numbers and as a consequence, this has been a particularly difficult for the tourism industry along the Great Barrier Reef.  Data up to 30 June 2021 is included in the graphs, thus ongoing impacts from further travel restrictions from July 2021 to present are not yet known.

The Australian Government, amongst other measures has provided support to the tourism industry during this time by waiving charges associated with the Environmental Management Charge and permit related fees.  The Authority thanks the tourism industry for continuing to provide their visitation numbers on a voluntary basis. This data is vital to industry and the management of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The following graphs show tourism visitation to the entire Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and to the planning areas.   These numbers include full day visits, part day visits, coral viewing activities, scenic flights and visits by those who are exempt from paying the Environmental Management Charge.  Full day visits are the best gauge of the general trend of tourism in the Marine Park.

Important information about this data

  • This data is updated biannually following receipt of Environmental Management Charge returns from commercial tourist operations.
  • The number of visitor days to the Marine Park is calculated at follows:
    • Full day visits – a day trip of more than three hours.
    • Part day visits – a trip that is less than three hours
      • The first day of a trip entering the Marine Park after 5pm
      • The last day of a trip leaving the Marine Park before 6am
    • Exempt visits – passengers who are not required to pay the Environmental Management Charge.
      • Overnight trips are recorded as multiple full days, for example, a stay of two days and one night is recorded as two full days.
      • Children less than 4 years of age
      • People who are engaged in the tourism industry who are visiting the Marine Park for trade familiarisation
      • Passengers for whom another operator has already paid EMC on that day
      • The fourth and subsequent days for passengers on extended charters.
    • Scenic flights – passengers on sight-seeing flights.
    • Coral Viewing – a stand-alone activity involving visitors viewing marine life from a semi-submersible or glass bottom boat.  Note: this does not include glass-bottomed and semi-submersible excursions which are ancillary to another tourist program.
  • These graphs do not include transfer passengers (eg. Ferry passengers).
  • The data presented has not been validated.
  • In previous years log book completion rates have been at 100 per cent.  The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority thanks the tourism industry for continuing to submit this information during these challenging times.

    The average percentage of quarterly logbook returns completed for 2020-2021 financial year was 97.12 per cent.  The breakdowns for each quarter are as follows:

  • July to September 2020 - 98.39 per cent
  • October to December 2020 - 97.96 per cent
  • January to March 2021 – 96.60 per cent
  • April to June 2021 – 95.53 per cent

Visitation Data

The 2020-2021 financial year aggregated data for visitation is now available in an excel format.