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Sunday, October 24, 2021

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Government support for reef tourism operators

Commercial reef tourism operators are invited to participate in the Queensland Government’s $1 million Great Barrier Reef Education Experience Program.

Assistant Tourism Minister and Member for Cairns Michael Healy said the government established the program to support opportunities for Queensland students to do place-based learning activities on the Great Barrier Reef, such as snorkelling, sea kayaking or glass bottom boat experiences.

“The Reef Education Program is another much-needed boost to the industry that would not only increase exposure and visitation but create new interest in learning and development for Queensland students,” he said.

“This initiative works on many levels and will have lasting benefits with a stronger understanding of reef science in our community.”

“This is testimony to the fact that the Palaszczuk Government is doing absolutely everything it can to support and diversify our tourism economy. Incentives such as these will work beyond the traditional tourism high season and into the shoulder periods with new markets.”

Mr Healy said commercial tourism operators who meet the eligibility criteria requirements were invited to submit an expression of interest by 5pm on Monday 7 June.

Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe also threw his support behind the program.

“We expect that thousands of Queensland primary and secondary students will get to explore the Reef, from Far North Queensland to Bundaberg,” Minister Hinchliffe said.

“The three-year program will provide up to $150 per student, paid directly to schools, towards the cost of a school excursion which includes a Reef experience.

“To be eligible for the program, reef tourism operators must have a COVID Safe plan in place, have a Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority permit to operate in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, and have appropriate Blue Cards.

“To ensure they are able to offer a quality experience to school students, the operators need to be recognised as a High Standard Tourism Operator by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority or a Best of Queensland Experience by Tourism and Events Queensland.”

Minister Hinchliffe said there had already been an enormous amount of interest in the program from Great Barrier Reef commercial tourism operators.

Applications will soon open for Queensland primary and secondary schools for excursions from the beginning of Term 3 this year and will run for three years or until funding is exhausted.

For further information including how to submit an expression of interest, visit www.dtis.qld.gov.au/our-work/experience-programs-education/great-barrier-reef/apply.

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