Commercial reef tourism operators have the chance to join the Great Barrier Reef Education Experience Program which is part of the Palaszczuk Government’s investment of more than $800 million in Queensland tourism’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan.
Assistant Tourism Minister and Member for Cairns Michael Healy said commercial tourism operators who meet eligibility criteria should submit an expression of interest by 5pm on Monday 7 June.
“For some 6,500 Queensland students, the Great Barrier Reef Education Experience Program will turn the reef into the state’s biggest classroom and increase bookings for local reef tour business,” Mr Healy said.
“There’s no better way to learn about the about the biology and protection of the reef than snorkeling the reef, sea kayaking or taking in a glass bottom boat experience with a Queensland tourism operator.
“The Reef Education Program will deliver a boost for the reef tour industry and accommodation providers.
“It’s an initiative that works on many levels from stronger community understanding of the reef to inspiring a new generation of Queensland students to aim for careers in reef sciences.”
Mr Healy said the Palaszczuk Government was supporting and diversifying our tourism economy.
“An incentive like this will work beyond the traditional tourism high season and into the shoulder periods,” Mr Healy said.
“Combined with Work in Paradise, the Good to Go campaign and Holiday Dollars, the Great Barrier Reef Education Program is another demonstration of the Palaszczuk Government’s unwavering commitment to supporting Queensland tourism to rebuild better.”
Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe also threw his support behind the Great Barrier Reef Education Experience Program.
“We expect thousands of Queensland primary and secondary students will get to explore the reef from Far North Queensland to the southern reef,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
“The three-year program provides up to $150 per student, paid directly to schools, toward 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, a Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority permit to operate in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, and appropriate Blue Cards.
“We want to offer a quality experience to school students, so operators will 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.
“We know there is enormous interest in this program among commercial reef tourism operators.”
Applications will open soon for Queensland primary and secondary school excursions from the start of term three this year and will run for three-years, or until funding is exhausted.