Australian government opens Great Barrier Reef to superyachts over 35 metres

1 August 2017 • Written by Elizabeth Finney

Superyachts over 35 metres will now be able to visit the Great Barrier Reef, with an additional 21 anchorages for superyachts under 70 metres to be created throughout the Whitsunday Planning Area.

The move has been made with economic growth in mind, with tourism defined as one of Australia's five core sectors for driving the country's prosperity. As the Great Barrier Reef is one of the most iconic natural sites in the world, it was decided that superyacht tourism should be catered for, with more cruising grounds and the option to stay longer in these beautiful waters.

Aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef. Picture courtesy of / superjoseph

“The Turnbull government has read the superyacht industry economic impact study and understands the value of the jobs and economic benefits of this sector to Australia, regional Australia in particular," said M. Edwards, CEO of Superyacht Australia. "This small move in regulations will have a big impact on regional economies who can now finally look to see greater utilisation of marina and refit facilities and the enormous spend with local businesses that comes with this.”

A recent study commissioned by Superyacht Australia found that the industry contributed a total of $1.97 billion to gross domestic product (GDP) in the 2016 financial year. Improving access for superyachts could contribute to increasing much sought-after overnight visitor expenditure.

“The increased access for superyacht anchorages in the Whitsundays is a huge boost for the local economy and the superyacht industry across Australia," Paul Darrouzet, owner of Abel Point Marina, said. "Superyacht captains now have the flexibility to develop a comprehensive itinerary in the Whitsundays which has direct benefit to our marina business and connected local services.”

Whitehaven Beach in Whitsundays, Queensland, Australia. Picture courtesy of / MagSpace

The superyacht industry is set to play a large part in the achieving the government 2020 strategy, which aims to build the resilience and competitiveness of Australia’s tourism industry and grow its economic contribution.

“Superyachts are built to the highest environmental standards and lead the world in all aspects of maritime best practices. [They] pose no additional risk to the environmental, social or cultural values of the Whitsunday region," Edwards added. "We believe that owners and guests of superyachts should have the same rights to access and enjoy the Whitsundays as any other visitor to the region and the changes to the plan of management will finally allow this.”

This is great news for those wanting to explore the Whitsunday Islands on a superyacht and offers yet more reasons why you should not be put off visiting the Great Barrier Reef.

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