Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have connections to sea country in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Tourism is the major economic activity in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and has the potential to become an increasingly important industry for Indigenous communities adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef.
What is Indigenous tourism?
- Indigenous tourism can mean many things:
- Tourism specifically to interpret Indigenous cultures and stories
- Indigenous people directly operating or investing in tourism operations
- Business partnerships between Indigenous organisations and tourism operators
- Indigenous people employed in tourism operations
- Mainstream tourism incorporating Indigenous culture and stories to enhance their programs
- Indigenous input into the way tourism is managed.
- There are many opportunities for Indigenous people to participate in marine tourism to the benefit of both Indigenous communities and the tourism industry. At the same time, greater participation by Indigenous communities can contribute to the care and development of the Marine Park.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's role
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has a Position Statement that explains its partnership role in fostering Indigenous participation in tourism and its management.
The Tourism Management Action Strategy includes several actions to involve Traditional Owners in tourism management and activities, and support partnerships that deliver social and economic outcomes.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Tourism and Events Queensland and the Queensland Department of the Environment and Heritage Protection are working with Indigenous groups plus other government agencies and tourism operators to enhance Indigenous participation.
Opportunities for participation in tourism
In addition to the range of opportunities and permits available throughout the Marine Park, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has specifically identified 18 Indigenous marine tourism permits allowing everyday operation within the Whitsundays (ten permits), Hinchinbrook (three permits) and Cairns (five permits) Planning Areas.
The permits are an opportunity for Indigenous people to build exciting and viable marine tourism businesses, and build relationships with existing operators. There are special arrangements for the allocation of the special Indigenous marine tourism permits.
Tourism industry involvement
There are a number of ways in which members of the tourism industry can foster Indigenous participation in tourism. There are guidelines to help operators support local Indigenous communities and engage with those communities about tourism in the Marine Park.
Summary of the allocation arrangements
- The Indigenous Special Tourism Permissions will be allocated through an expression of interest process as defined in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations (Division 2.6).
- The allocation process will commence for the relevant Planning Area, based on demand from one or more eligible Traditional Owner(s) for a special tourism permission.
- Written advice will be provided to potential applicants, relevant Land Councils and Commonwealth and State Government agencies well in advance of an upcoming call for expressions of interest (for example two months).
- The following selection criteria will be used to rank any applications, subject to minor variations for particular opportunities:
- Demonstrated competence and knowledge relevant to the tourism opportunity, for example tourism experience, business knowledge and a sound business proposal.
- Extent to which the operation will enhance protection of Marine Park values, for example through adoption of best practices and improved protection of sites of cultural significance.
- Extent to which the operation will enhance presentation of Marine Park values, for example the quality and quantity of interpretation and education, the extent to which the operation will enhance the range of visitor experiences available and the standard of client services and infrastructure.
- The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority will meet with relevant Traditional Owner groups, Land Councils and Commonwealth and State Government agencies before an allocation process has commenced to outline the process, particularly the selection criteria.
- An application period of at least four months will be allowed.
- Applications from joint venture partnerships or companies that include non-Traditional Owners will be allowed, providing that eligible Traditional Owners are the major partner(s) or majority shareholder(s).
Allocation arrangements for Indigenous Special Tourism Permissions
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has set aside a number of Indigenous Special Tourism Permissions under the Plans of Management for Cairns (five permits), Hinchinbrook (three permits) and the Whitsundays (10 permits).
These permits are intended for traditional inhabitants who have traditional affiliations with the relevant Planning Area. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is required to allocate these permits through an expression of interest process.