Encouraging responsible industry stewardship

The Great Barrier Reef supports a range of tourism and other activities worth $5.6 billion a year to the nation’s economy and supports 69,000 jobs.

Image courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland.

Image courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland.

As a protected area, any tourism and other commercial activities that happen on the reef are subject to stringent approvals, conditions and regulations to ensure they are undertaken sustainably.

Commercial shipping is also highly regulated by international, commonwealth, state and local regulations and reef-specific policies.

As a multiple-use area the Queensland Government encourages industry to be responsible stewards both within the World Heritage Area and in the adjacent catchments.


Tourism in the Great Barrier Reef region is almost exclusively nature-based, and is heavily reliant on an intact Great Barrier Reef ecosystem. Despite the region’s size tourism activity remains focused in a small portion of the Reef with approximately 83% of all tourism activity occurring in approximately 7% of the region during 2013. Commercial marine tourism continues to be the most significant use of the Reef, with up to 2 million visits made each year to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.


  • Deloitte Access Economic Study, 2013
  • Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority


The beef, sugarcane and horticulture industries in the Great Barrier Reef catchments are a significant source of the region's employment and contribute approximately $3.7 billion annually in gross value of production (ABS Value of Agriculture Commodities Produced).

Queensland’s cane industry directly provides 15,600 jobs with approximately 15% of employees in coastal regions directly or indirectly involved in the cane industry. The State’s grazing industry-within the Great Barrier Reef catchments-produces nearly half of Australia’s beef products, with the industry employing more than 20,000 people and an additional 8000 in meat processing. The Burdekin and Fitzroy catchments are the two prime Queensland grazing areas, with approximately 3800 graziers operating in the area covering over 24 million hectares.

Last updated
16 April 2015