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Onboard - Tourism Operator's Handbook for the Great Barrier Reef


Related Links

Ecotourism Australia
Learn more about the ECO Certification Program
Climate Action Certification
Learn more about Climate Action Certification

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the marine tourism industry are pursuing common goals of a healthy sustainable reef and a vibrant sustainable tourism industry. To this end, the GBRMPA is offering tangible benefits to those high standard operators who operate best practice marine tourism in the Marine Park, especially where those practices help to protect and present the Marine Park and where operators work in partnership to help manage the Reef.

What makes me high standard?

Your operation is identified as high standard if it is certified with an approved external certification scheme. That means you must demonstrate a certain level of best practice in various aspects of your operation.

The GBRMPA recognises the ECO Certification Program operated by Ecotourism Australia, at the Ecotourism and Advanced Ecotourism levels of certification.

Other certification schemes may be approved in the future.

What benefits are there?

Initially the GBRMPA is offering high standard operators an extended permit term of 15 years. Once you are certified with the ECO Certification Program (Ecotourism and Advanced Ecotourism levels) you may wish to apply for a 15-year permit for your certified tourism product.

Certified operators are also showcased on the GBRMPA website and at trade events such as the Australian Tourism Exchange. More rewards will be rolled out as they are developed.

How do I become certified?

To become certified with the ECO Certification Program, you first complete a comprehensive workbook demonstrating the high standards you are achieving (see Related Links at top right of page). Ecotourism Australia then verifies and assesses your application, any supporting documents and information from referees before deciding whether your operation deserves certification and at what level. You are then issued with a certification certificate. ECO Certification last for 3 years.

Are my certified operations monitored?

Ecotourism Australia will audit your certified operation at least once during your three-year certification period. Auditing is undertaken by independent third party environmental auditors and is crucial to the credibility of the ECO Certification Program. Ecotourism Australia will also continually monitor your certified operation and investigate any complaints received, possibly including an on-site audit.

What happens if I don't maintain the standards?

Whenever an operator is found to be operating below the certification standards, Ecotourism Australia will send a corrective action letter, including a timeline for compliance. A written response and evidence of compliance is required from the operator in order to maintain certification. If they do not comply, their certification will be suspended.

Ecotourism Australia keeps the GBRMPA up-to-date with outcomes of its auditing and complaints investigations.

What if I am concerned about an operator?

If you are concerned that a certified Marine Parks operator is not operating to the high standards required in the
ECO Certification Program, please write to Ecotourism Australia detailing your concerns. They will thoroughly investigate your complaint and possibly contact you for further information.

© Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority