The Morrison Government’s business stimulus package has been greeted with a round of applause from Whitsunday tourism operators as Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley outlined fee relief for Great Barrier Reef Marine Park operators for the remainder of 2020.
Minister Ley joined the Member for Dawson George Christensen at Airlie Beach today as he hosted a meeting of tourism operators to discuss a range of issues impacting the Whitsundays.
Ms Ley said the Morrison Government’s stimulus package was about protecting jobs and helping small business weather the storm.
“I was delighted to tell the room that as part of the package we will be waiving the environmental management charge affecting reef activities for a period while maintaining reef funding,” Ms Ley said.
“This was a proposal brought to me by the Reef Special Envoy and the member for Dawson and I am pleased to see it come to fruition.
“The Reef is incredibly important to many Australians and while there are some serious challenges for the Reef in a world of changing climates, it still remains a natural wonder that is an incredible place to visit.”
Special Envoy for the Reef Warren Entsch said the initiative will provide much needed relief for the tourism industry and further encourage visitors to the amazing places in our own backyard.
“Tourism operators told me this is one measure that will provide immediate relief for them and one that I am extremely pleased to see delivered,” Mr Entsch said.
Member for Dawson George Christensen said that the EMC charge will be especially welcomed by reef operators.
“These people care deeply about the reef and about showing it to the world,” he said
“They do an outstanding job but they have been hit by a number of events over recent years and this will provide some relief across the industry.”
Deputy Chair of Tourism Whitsundays Al Grundy said the decision would have a profound impact.
“It may seem a small thing or a simple thing but it will have a very big impact. This will be the difference between some people staying in business or not,” he said
“If the business can stay open in some tough times it’s much better than having people on the dole queue or being lost to the industry altogether.”
Currently, visitors to the Reef are required to pay $6.50 to tourism operators for trips over three hours duration and $3.25 per person for trips less than three hours duration. This contribution goes directly to managing the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage Area.
The Australian Government will provide additional funding over this period to support the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to continue to deliver its world-class management of the Great Barrier Reef.