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BARRIER REEF AUSTRALIA Accommodation, Tours, Attractions & Interesting Facts About The Great Barrier Reef.

Great Barrier Reef
Coral Facts
Some Of The Dangers

  Great Barrier Reef - Introduction
Great Barrier Reef...A Great place for your next holiday!
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the world, roughly parallel to the coast of Queensland, Australia, stretching over 2000 km. Australia has almost 1/5th of the world's reef area and most is located in the (GBR) Great Barrier Reef. Map Of The Reef
Reefs form where temperatures don't fall below 18 degrees Celsius (64 degrees Fahrenheit) for long periods, so are usually found between 30 degrees north and south of the equator. Most require very saline water, also the water must be very clear so light penetrates. 
Corals found in the Great Barrier Reef contain algae and the relationship between the algae produce oxygen and help the coral to remove wastes. When this relationship breaks down, the coral suffers and becomes bleached. Bleaching is a major worry for those looking after reef health, as coral dies if bleaching is prolonged.
Washed by the warm waters of the South-West Pacific Ocean the perfect environment is created for the world's largest system of coral reefs. The Great Barrier Reef is of such pristine condition that it was listed by the World Heritage Trust as a protected site and is therefore managed by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to ensure that its beauty is maintained for many holiday makers and siteseers to come.
Visitors in their thousands come to the Great Barrier Reef to marvel at the spectacular sight seeing opportunities that is unique to our area. The Wet Tropics World Heritage listed Rainforest on one side and the Great Barrier Reef on the other. No other place in the world offers such diversity so close to each other.
Go>> Were Do Reefs Occur.

The primary Tourism uses are:-
1. Great Barrier Reef diving tours from Cairns & Port Douglas
2. large vessels operating to pontoons moored at attractive off-shore reef sites  
3. island resorts 
4. cruise ships 
5. charter vessels
6. airplane and helicopter scenic joy flights
7. bareboat self-skipper charter 

History of tourism use
The Great Barrier Reef with it's magnificent coral collection has more than 400 different kinds of coral and is the only living thing on earth visable from space. The great Barrier Reef has become the worlds most sort after tourist destinations.

The earliest instance of organised tourism attractions on the The Great Barrier Reef was in the 1890s when Green Island became a destination for pleasure cruises offshore of Cairns. By the 1930s tourist resorts had begun to develop at Green Island off Cairns and at Heron Island further south. During the first half of the 20th century, most tourist activity was inshore and close to regional centres, being limited by boating technology and sub standard transport links to southern capitals.

The 1960s and 1970s produced a steady growth in visitor numbers, most notably at Green Island and in the Whitsundays. By the end of the 1970s new, faster marine vessels extended the range of a day trip to the Reef to between 15 and 20 nautical miles. Great Barrier Reef attractions are plenty and there are so many activities for visitors and tourists.

Great Barrier Reef tourism grew rapidly in the 1980s and early 1990s, assisted by improved air access to a number of regional centres and vastly improved road transport links. In the early 1980s visitor numbers to the Marine Park were increasing by about 30% per year. There was also a steady growth in the number of operations over this time, and the capacity, range and diversity of products offered expanded markedly. High-speed modern vessels extended the range of a day trip to the reef to over 50 nautical miles.

Tourism today

Tourism is now the largest commercial activity in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The marine tourism industry is a major contributor to the local and Australian economies.

About 1.6 million tourists now visit the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park each year. This number has remained relatively static since the mid 1990s. About 85% of tourists visit the Marine Park in the area offshore of Cairns and in the Whitsundays, a combined area of less than 10% of the Marine Park.

There are approximately 730 tourism operators and 1,500 vessels and aircraft permitted to operate in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. About 60% of these permitted operators are actively undertaking a tourism operation in the Marine Park.

There is a diverse range of tourism operations catering to the differing needs of visitors to the Great Barrier Reef. Activities typically include: snorkelling; scuba diving; fishing; glass-bottomed boat viewing, semi-submersibles and educational trips to learn about the marine environment.

The marine tourism industry plays an important role in presenting the World Heritage area to a wide range of visitors. For many visitors to coastal Queensland, the tourism fleet is their primary means of experiencing the Great Barrier Reef and learning about its World Heritage values.

Managing tourism use of the Great Barrier Reef

Keeping the Barrier Reef ‘Great’ for future generations requires the cooperative effort of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, other government agencies, the marine tourism industry and other stakeholders. By working together, the diversity, integrity and productivity of the Great Barrier Reef can be maintained and the impacts of all activities in the Marine Park can be minimised. The goal is to provide for the protection, wise use, understanding and enjoyment of the Great Barrier Reef in perpetuity.

In managing tourism use of the Marine Park, particular attention is given to: protecting coral reefs and other habitats such as seagrass from anchor damage, poor diving practices, waste disposal, reef walking and collecting protecting turtles and seabirds from disturbance, especially during nesting seasons respecting the cultural importance of the Great Barrier Reef to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders minimising conflicts in access within this multiple use Marine Park informing the community about the Great Barrier Reef and its World Heritage values encouraging the adoption of best practices within tourism operations assisting the marine tourism industry to contribute to management initiatives and monitoring programs.

Fundamental to management is the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 (Cwlth). Its regulations provide the framework for the establishment, care and ongoing management of the Marine Park. There is also a reef-wide system of zoning which defines in broad terms a set of management objectives for each zone along with a description of what activities, especially extractive activities, may or may not take place, including those that require a permit. Permits are required for all tourism activities in the Marine Park. It is through these permits that the activities that may be undertaken by each operator are defined and any necessary conditions described.

Management issues relating to tourism use of a specific region can be further addressed through plans of management. Such plans have been developed for the Cairns Area and Whitsundays (the two major tourism nodes in the Marine Park). These plans are designed to manage:

environmental protection of these high-use sites
separation of different uses
resolution of conflicting use
limiting use where necessary.

Tourism use is also managed on a finer scale through specific management initiatives for popular reefs and bays. Here the focus is on localised issues, and any plans and management strategies are developed in close consultation with local users.

A set of best practices has been developed to guide the activities of tourism operators and visitors in the Marine Park. Many of the tourism associations have developed voluntary codes of conduct to ensure that their members’ operations are sustainable. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority communicates information about management requirements and sustainable use through a range of quality information products and training opportunities. New zoning within areas of the reef during 2004 and 2005 has added extra protection to the natural beauty of the reef while still allowing the marine tourism industry to thrive. 

Increasingly, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is recognising the important role the marine tourism industry plays in presenting the area to the general public and its potential to work in partnership with managers to achieve best practice, sustainable use of the Marine Park. Through working cooperatively with the marine tourism industry, we aim to ensure a sustainable and vibrant future for tourism on the Great Barrier Reef.


Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority 2000, Tourism Operator’s Handbook for the Great Barrier Reef, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Townsville.

Harriott V (in press), Marine Tourism Impacts and their Management on the Great Barrier Reef, CRC Reef Research Centre Technical Report No. 46, CRC Reef Research Centre, Townsville.

Ilett A, Aiello R, Power M, Recchia C & Saunders L 2000, 'The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area - Ecotourism in the world’s largest marine protected area’, in T Charters & K Law (eds), Best Practice Ecotourism in Queensland, Tourism Queensland, Brisbane, pp. 65-80.

Ilett A, Skeat H, Thomas C, Bonanno V & Green E (in press), Managing Tourism Sustainably - lessons learned on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, Proceedings of the Ninth Meeting of the International Coral Reef Symposium, Bali.
Off the Cairns coastline are outer edge ribbon reefs which may be up to 25 kilometres long. This is the outer limits of the continental shoreline of prehistoric times. The ribbon reefs can be seen by taking one of the Great Barrier Reef reef cruises offered by local tour operators. One of the best ways to view the Great Barrier Reef attractions is a breathtaking scenic flight over it and especially at low tide where you'll see the breadth and diversity of this great living wonder. 
The waters of the Great Barrier Reef provide the world's busiest and most varied marine habitats. Marine life is in abundance. From the many species of coral to the sought after Black Marlin and all sizes and species of fish in-between. The varied colours of the reef's fish and other marine life will astound the visitor with colour combinations that artists haven't even dreamed of. It is the largest of the world’s 552 World Heritage Areas, covering 347,000 km There are more than 2800 catalogued reefs in the area.

Although The Great Barrier Reef stretching more than 2000 kilometres offshore from Queensland, it is only at Cape Tribulation, just north of Port Douglas that the reefs come right to the shore and meets the tropical rainforests of the Wet Tropics. With over 1000 islands which are easily accessible from North Queensland and coastal cities like Cairns and Port Douglas. The coral islands are very popular tourist attractions. Some even have varied vegetation including rainforest and are encircled by the coral reefs. Accommodation on the islands that are inhabited ranges from camping grounds to bungalows and luxurious resorts.