Tourism Industry Activation and Reef Protection Initiative

This was an initiative set up (Feb 2021 – June 2021) as part of the Australian Government’s COVID19 Relief and Recovery fund to support the marine tourism sector which has been severely affected by the pandemic. It entailed a collaboration between the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and High Standard Great Barrier Reef Tourism Operators.

Both Cairns Premier Reef & Island Tours’ vessels “Ocean Free” and “Ocean Freedom” were involved. As experienced tourism operators we have been stewards of our reef sites for over 25 years. This project enabled us to further increase and progress our stewardship activities and importantly also allowed us to give our employees more workdays than would have been possible.

The achievements of Ocean Free & Ocean Freedom during this initiative:

  • Reef Health & Impact Survey (RHIS) / Tourism Weekly Monitoring (TW) – Seven crew were fully trained by GBRMPA’s Eye on the Reef team in RHIS and TW – providing valuable data to GBRMPA and scientists
  • COT’s and Drupella dives at our various snorkel and dive sites – again valuable data to GBRMPA and also protection of tourism sites
  • Training to support a local research initiative between GBRMPA’s Eye on the Reef and Reef Teach – the Photo Point Enhancement Project (Refer “Point 2” above.)

This training also gave our staff:

  • increased knowledge and confidence to better interpret the reef to our guests,
  • empowered them and the company in the knowledge that they are making valuable contributions to the protection and effective management of the GBR by the collection of valuable data for scientists-enabling a better understanding of different parts of the reef system, and a better understanding of corallivore activity

More Interpretative Material:

  • the development of educational ideas for groups other than classical “tourism”
  • more educational and interpretative content

The funding without any doubt allowed the company to survive during these continued uncertain times but also has had beneficial consequences on company and staff morale, provided GBRMPA and scientists with invaluable consistent data, enabled the company the opportunity to develop educational content to attract also an “educational” style of tour for some specific markets and the opportunity to continue progressing research projects we are also involved in namely the “Coral Nurture Programme”.

Our continued philosophy: To provide the most personal, responsible, customer-oriented Great Barrier Reef experience and truly “connect” our guests to this amazing natural icon, with the knowledge that once they have had this surreal experience, they will naturally want to protect it and make little changes in their everyday lives.


See Video

View this initiative between GBRMPA, Scientists and Tourism on OCEAN FREEDOM





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