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Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment
Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill has announced plans for the implementation of the increased Environmental Management Charge (EMC) for the Great Barrier Reef.
The EMC was increased to $6 in the Federal Budget to reflect the growing trend at both State and Federal level towards cost recovery for the management of national parks.
Consultations with the tourism industry have helped produce an implementation plan for the increase which addresses many of the concerns expressed by operators.
As a result of this consultation, the Government will delay introduction of $4 of the increase until
1 January 1998 and will also implement a number of concessions.
The EMC will increase from $1 to $2 commencing on 1 January 1997. Industry will be allowed to identify the EMC component within its ticketing and promotional material. A $4 tourist visitor charge will then be levied on users of commercial facilities and craft from 1 January 1998.
This tourist visitor charge has been structured so that multiple visits to the reef on the same day will not result in multiple payment of the charge. For multiple day tours or charter, a 3 day maximum tourist visitor charge will apply.
The tourist visitor charge will also provide for a part day charge for sunset tours, child concessions, and retention of existing rates for resort beach hire and other resort activities.
The Government accepts the responsibility for the collection and administration of the visitor charge. The Government will, however, invite further consultations with industry representatives to determine the most efficient and cooperative method to address these issues.
The implementation plan will ensure that tourists who enjoy the Reef pay a fairer share of the cost of managing the conservation of one of Australia's most precious natural assets. It will secure funding for the on-going protection of the Reef.
The Government will also review the consultative processes of GBRMPA to ensure adequate representation of the tourism industry.
This reflects the Government's commitment to the tourism industry and the important roles it plays in showing the Reef to international visitors, in contributing to the conservation of the Reef, and in generating economic wealth for the region.
The Government has already announced an independent review of GBRMPA to ensure it manages the Reef efficiently and effectively.
Media inquiries: Matt Brown 06 277 7640