Whitsundays driving Barrier Reef visitation figures and exponential growth for region: Data

Guests onboard tender viewing the turtle in the water
Edited by Travel Weekly


    New data from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) has revealed that 44 per cent of tourism visitation in the financial year 2023 came from the Whitsundays.

    The visitation data shows 619,714 of a total 1,385,360 full-day visitors to the Great Barrier Reef visited The Whitsundays Marine Park during FY23, which is almost double that of FY22 at 346,468.

    The data also indicates an exponential increase in scenic flight visitation, from 8,893 passengers in FY22 to 17,662 in FY23.

    A crucial portion of ticket sales with commercial operators in the marine park is the Environmental Management Charge (EMC).

    The EMC’s primary role is to ensure the longevity of the Reef through responsible day-to-day management of the Marine Park – that is, from Cairns to Gladstone – as well as conservation-focussed research programmes and initiatives specifically designed with the Reef’s health as top priority.

    Every person who books with a commercial operator on the Great Barrier Reef will pay $7 as part of each ticket; allowing the EMC to constantly monitor the Reef’s health, conduct scientific research to understand its complex ecology and implement strategies to combat environmental and human threats to the natural wonder.

    “This small fee per booking via The Whitsundays’ high-standard tourism operators allows every traveller to be part of protecting the Great Barrier Reef just by enjoying their day out,” CEO, Tourism Australia, Rick Hamilton, said.

    “The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living wonder of the world and a heritage-listed site. It sits on many peoples’ bucket list and it should stay there – not only because visiting the Reef is an incredible life experience that’s unlike any other on earth but moreover, because paying to visit the Reef via a high-standard tour operator actually contributes to its long-term protection.”

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