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Reef operators frequently asked questions

Program and subsidy

  • The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Education Experience Program is a Queensland Government subsidy program for Queensland schools to take students on school excursions or school camps which travel, explore and discover the GBR.

    The Program is being delivered by the Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport together with program partners - the Department of Education, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Tourism and Events Queensland.

  • The GBR is the world’s largest coral reef system with some of the richest biodiversity on the planet. It is recognised as one of the world’s most iconic tourism experiences and continues to be Australia’s greatest natural attraction. As both an educational and tourism experience, the Great Barrier Reef region is a magnificent resource for Queensland students right on our doorstep, and for students across Australia. This program will help provide an increased sustainable visitor source for the GBR region to aid its economic recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Applications for the program opened in June 2021 for school excursions being undertaken from Term 3 (July), 2021. The program will run for three years or until funding is exhausted.

  • Subsidy amounts are allocated to schools on a per student basis, at rate corresponding to the round-trip distance travelled from the school as per the subsidy table below.

    Day excursion

    Distance not applicable. Subsidy value: $40

    Overnight itinerary

    Total distance travelled (round trip)

    Level 1, up to 499km: $55

    Level 2, 500km - 999km: $85

    Level 3, 1000km - 1499km: $115

    Level 4, 1500km+: $150

    The subsidy is not intended to cover all costs of the planned activities or itinerary.

  • The subsidy will be provided to participating schools who undertake school excursions or camps which meet the requirements of the program and have had their application approved prior to travel.

    It is not paid directly to reef tourism operators, travel agents, tour agencies, students or parents.

  • The subsidy is available upon application to all primary and secondary Queensland schools where students are participating in an organised excursion or camp by the school.

    The subsidy application is made by the school on behalf of the students participating in the excursion or camp. The subsidy will be available for all primary and secondary schools in Queensland to undertake school excursions or school camps along the length of the Great Barrier Reef.

  • For a school excursion itinerary to attract the subsidy, it must include at least one reef experience facilitated by a commercial reef tourism operator listed on the Program website.

    Schools are responsible for selecting a reef experience and operator that meets their individual needs. It is expected that schools will engage directly with commercial reef tourism operators or through edu-travel providers, reef education/research providers, travel agents or booking agents.

    Engagement between the reef operator and school or agent prior to the activity is encouraged to ensure the diverse learning needs of each school community, cohort, class, group and individual are identified.

    Inclusion on the program website is designed to assist schools in connecting with reef operators who can facilitate the delivery of a reef education experience.  It does not guarantee bookings for an operator.

    The Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport or the program partners are not involved in booking experiences or recommending individual experiences to schools.

  • The list of registered reef tourism operators is displayed in table form by region and includes details provided via the EOI form including operator name, website, contact details and group size and age groups that can be accommodated.

    The list of current registered reef tourism operators can be viewed here.

  • For assistance completing the EOI form, operators can contact the Great Barrier Reef Education Experience team via email at GBReducation@dtis.qld.gov.au

    For assistance and information regarding your Best of Queensland Experience results, please contact Experiences@queensland.com

  • A Great Barrier Reef Education Experience Teaching Resources Guide has been developed to support curriculum-based learning on the reef. The Guide incudes a range of fact sheets and study materials that is curriculum-linked for all year levels, from early learning to grade 12. The Guide can be accessed here.

Provider eligibility

  • High Standard Tourism Operators are recognised for operating in an ecologically sustainable manner and are independently certified by environmental certification schemes, Ecotourism Australia and Earth Check, as part of the requirements to be a part of the High Standard Tourism Operator program.

    You can find out more about becoming a High Standard Reef Tourism on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority webpage at https://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/our-partners/tourism-industry/high-standard-tourism

  • The GBR Education Experience Program is a three-year program and commercial reef tourism operators that meet the eligibility requirements are invited to submit an expression of interest to register with the Program.

    Once eligibility has been confirmed, operator details will be published on the Program website to assist schools in engaging with reef experience providers. The list of operators is updated monthly.

  • The Best of Queensland Experiences are assessed on an annual basis.

    Operators need to be registered on the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse to be assessed.

    For more information on how to become a Best of Queensland experience operator you can visit the Tourism and Events Queensland page at https://teq.queensland.com/experiences/best-of-queensland-experiences

    For assistance and information regarding your Best of Queensland Experience results, please contact Experiences@queensland.com

  • The subsidy is calculated on distance travelled during the excursion to encourage more overnight stays by school groups.

    While the use of transport providers alone will not be sufficient for a school to claim the subsidy, it is expected there will be flow on benefits for transport providers from the Program.

  • The subsidy is calculated on distance travelled during the excursion to encourage more overnight stays by school groups.

    While the use of accommodation providers on the mainland alone will not be sufficient for a school to claim the subsidy, it is expected there will be flow on benefits for accommodation providers from the Program.

  • The Program is aimed at encouraging Queensland students to experience an educational reef-based in-water, on-water or on-island experience within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

    Multiple day school excursions often include both mainland and reef experiences. Mainland operators are likely to benefit as schools include them in their itineraries to complement the
    reef-based experience.

  • It is not expected that reef operators deliver the curriculum related lesson associated with the activity.

    While there are some reef operators who already provide curriculum related lessons as part of their reef experiences, it is not mandatory. Where the operator does not include a curriculum related lesson in their experience, it is expected that the school, edutourism provider or reef education/research provider will provide curriculum related instruction as part of the reef experience.

  • If you are a tourism operator in Outback Queensland, you may be able to participate in the Outback Education Experience Program. For further information please visit https://teq.queensland.com/destinations/outback-queensland/outback-education-subsidy-scheme

    School excursions with edu-tourism experiences delivered outside of the Great Barrier Reef and Outback regions are not currently eligible for the Queensland Government education experience subsidies.

  • Tourism and Events Queensland's Study Tours and Edutourism Toolkit has been designed to assist education providers and tourism operators in developing study tours and edutourism programs.

Last updated: 15 Jun 2021