Commonwealth Government commits to opening up Whitsunday Islands to Superyachts
The Great Barrier Reef Marina Park Authority (GBRMPA) have committed to reviewing the Whitsundays Plan of Management which currently restricts the access of Superyachts over 35 metres to certain settings in the Whitsunday Islands.
The Whitsundays Plan of Management was first developed in 1998 by GBRMPA to protect and conserve the values of a particular area of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park associated with the area around the Whitsunday Island Group, while allowing for a range of use opportunities. Whilst this plan has an obvious purpose to conserve one of the great wonders of the world, the plan has restricted access for vessels that are over 35 metres in length. The restrictions include anchoring 1500m from islands & reef, constraints on traversing through most setting areas and only a handful of designated Superyacht anchorage points. For vessels over 35 metres that are visiting Australia and have a very large economic benefit to the regions it visits, Whitsundays is often being passed by large Superyachts due to these constraints. You have the most sought after cruising and tourism destination in the world that restricts access to Superyachts.
The current government in Queensland have realised the potential of this high yielding market and the impact it can have on regional Queensland towns. A project group within GBRMPA has been set up and they are currently consulting with tourism and marine industry representatives to gain feedback about amendments to the plan. It is planned for a review of the plan to be ready for use by Dec-2015 which means that Superyachts visiting next cruising season may be able to experience the benefits of greater access to the magic of the Whitsunday Islands.
Keep an eye on this area for more detail.