Tourism Contribution and Values 

The Reef continues to be Australia's greatest natural attraction, recognised as an iconic experience, locally, nationally and internationally.

Tourism is low risk and well managed.

Visitors are encouraged to visit the Reef with high standard tourism operator who help to protect reef health, present the park to a consistently high standard and are independently certified by a recognised environmental certification scheme.

Tourism access is regulated through a permitting system, vitally important in the day-to-day management of the marine park and for improving long-term resilience.

Tourism operators contribute to Reef monitoring, adhere to responsible reef practices, trial small-scale reef restoration initiatives, and support  delivery of quality interpretation and education by accredited Master Reef Guides.

Each ticket sold to experience the reef includes the ‘Environmental Management Charge”. Funds are used to support strong, effective and agile marine park management practices to protect the reef, reduce threats and improve the long term outlook. On 6 October 2020 the Australian Government announced budget measures to provide continued support to Great Barrier Reef Marine tourism operators significantly affected by COVID-19. This includes a further 6-month extension of the EMC waiver, to 30 June 2021. Permit holders must not advertise, collect or pay the fees to GBRMPA during this time.

Tourism and Reef Science

The Great Barrier Reef tourism industry’s vitality and viability is inextricably linked to the Reef's long-term health. Tourism facilitates visitor engagement on initiatives which demonstrate recovery, regeneration and resilience.

A number of Reef tourism operators offer visitors the opportunity to observe or participate in reef science, including:

  • Quicksilver: Visitors can snorkel and observe a reef restoration research site at Agincourt Reef.
  • Passions of Paradise: Visitors can monitor and record the health of the reed of different coral and marine species and identify threats.
  • Fitzroy Island: The Turtle Rehabilitation Centre allow visitors to learn about the journey to recovery that injured or sick turtles undergo whilst at this Centre, prior to their release back into the ocean.
  • Lizard Island: Tours to the Research Station are conducted twice a week and available for all Lizard Island guests.
  • Orpeheus Island: Located within Pioneer Bay is the Orpheus Island Research Station, a marine research facility operated by James Cook University. Visitors can join an educational eco-tour and explore the Orpheus Island Research Station research facilities.
  • Heron Island Resort: Visitors can tour the the Heron Island Research Station and learn about how the station operates, including research conducted. Visitors are also able to partake in a guided tour of the island.
  • Lady Elliot Island Resort: Visitors are able to partake in REEFSearch and upload their findings on the REEFSearch Hub. Visitors can also participate in a dedicated Climate Change Trail and Tour of the island. 
  • Reefteach Cairns: Visitors are able to learn what to look for, where to find it and how to discover the Great Barrier Reef.
  • The Morris Family Foundation is donating $50 per guest stay at a Northern Escape Collection Lodge and $5 per guest stay at the Ville Resort to the Reef Keepers Fund.

Tours of Great Barrier Reef Island research stations can be found here.