Skip to main content

The Tourism Management Action Strategy outlines how tourism on the Great Barrier Reef will be managed and how the Authority will support tourism whilst protecting the Reef in the future.

The joint strategy with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service was developed after targeted and public consultation and released in September 2021. It covers both the Commonwealth and State Marine Parks and provides overarching guidance on the management of Reef tourism out to 2035.


“Tourism operators are important partners in helping ensure the Great Barrier Reef is valued and protected for the future and we have a long history of well-managed tourism on the Reef. The Strategy aims to reduce regulatory burden and simplify and improve tourism management, particularly in light of the challenging times facing the tourism industry.” Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority CEO Josh Thomas


The Reef Authority’s vision is for ecologically sustainable and culturally sensitive tourism, achieved through effective engagement with the Reef tourism industry, Traditional Owners and other partners. This supports transformational, world-leading visitor experiences on the Great Barrier Reef.

The strategy supports best-practice high standard tourism. It encourages presentation of the environment, biodiversity and heritage values of the Marine Parks, including appropriate recognition, respect and participation of Traditional Owners of sea country.  It sets out specific actions to achieve the outcomes and objectives, over the short, medium or long term.

Detailed, direct guidance about applying for permissions for specific types of tourism activities is available elsewhere on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's Permits page.

Key outcomes, objectives and actions  

The Strategy has three major outcomes, supported by specific objectives and actions that will be implemented over the short, medium and long term:

  • Contemporary, agile, risk-based and efficient management:
  • The managing agencies implement contemporary, agile, risk-based and efficient management that supports ecologically sustainable tourism in the Marine Parks.
  • Toward this outcome, the managing agencies aim to ensure their management is contemporary, fit-for-purpose, clearly understood and accepted, easily administered and complied with to deliver ecologically sustainable tourism.  
  • This also includes active and adaptive (agile) management that responds effectively and rapidly to changing ecological, social and economic issues affecting the Reef.


  • Tourism in the Marine Park is world-leading and transformational:
  • The managing agencies support tourism in the Marine Parks that is world-leading and transformational for management and visitor experience, inspiring strong stewardship by tourism operators and visitors alike.
  • The objectives under this outcome are to establish benchmarks to ensure Reef-appreciation activities prevent or minimise harm to the environment in the Marine Parks and promote high-standard experiences that inspire visitors, and support tourism operators contributing to the ongoing care, protection and understanding of the Reef’s values.


  • Supporting Traditional Owner sea country and cultural heritage values:
  • The managing agencies support tourism in the Marine Parks to respect, recognise and celebrate Traditional Owner connection to country, involve Traditional Owners, and help maintain natural and cultural heritage values.
  • To achieve this, the managing agencies will respect, recognise and promote Traditional Owners as the long-standing custodians of the Reef, involve Traditional Owners in tourism management and activities, and support partnerships that deliver social and economic outcomes.  
  • A second objective is to integrate Traditional Owner knowledge and input into the managing agencies’ tourism policy, planning, environmental assessment and permitting processes to help maintain the Reef’s natural, cultural and heritage values.
Working with High Standard Tourism Operators on the Reef - Australia - Commonwealth of Australia (Reef Authority)
Map of the Whitsundays Island overlooking Whitsundays – Australia - © QPWS - Photographer: Victor Huertas
Person putting on a snorkel on a commercial operator  – Australia - © Tourism and Events Queensland
Master reef guide looking across Lizard Island - Great Barrier Reef  – Australia - © Tourism and Events Queensland
Tourism Experience Indigenous Cultural Snorkel Dive Queensland
Updated 23 Aug 2022
Was this page helpful?
Your rating will help us improve the website.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.