The Gillard Government will help ease the financial pressure on the Great Barrier Reef tourism industry through a temporary cut to the Environment Management Charge (EMC) on visitors to the Reef.
The Great Barrier Reef tourism industry is experiencing a challenging time resulting from a number of recent pressures, including adverse weather events, reduced visitor numbers and the strength of the Australian dollar.
Starting from 1 April 2012, the amount paid by a tourist on a full day trip to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park with a commercial operator will be reduced to $3.50, and $1.75 for a part day.
The Great Barrier Reef is an iconic part of Australia's landscape and supports important marine and tourism industries. The Reef supports around 54,000 full-time jobs and generates approximately $5.4 billion, making tourism a fundamental part of the north-eastern Australian economy.
The decrease in the EMC will not impact on how the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is managed. The Government is committed to protect the World Heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef.
Tourism operators collect the EMC through a Standard Tourist Program Charge (STPC) from their clients on behalf of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, a Federal Government body responsible for the protection of the Reef.
Whereas the Reef tourism industry would normally be given 12 months' notice of a change in the STPC, the reduction will be introduced on 1 April. While this limits the time for industry to prepare, it will provide much needed relief to reef tourism sooner.
Tourism boat operators often increase the price of their tour tickets to incorporate the cost of the STPC. The charge will be reduced by $2.50 per full day until 31 March 2015.