After protracted lobbying efforts by Superyacht Australia, the Australian government has given permission for superyachts over 35m (115ft) to visit the Great Barrier Reef.

For the past nine years, Superyacht Australia has been striving to get changes made to the Whitsunday Plan of Management. The amendments that have now been made will create 21 superyacht anchorages for superyachts less than 70m throughout the Whitsunday Planning Area.

MaryAnne Edwards, CEO of Superyacht Australia, says: “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. 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.”

Marine tourism is a significant part of the Australian economy and a growing contributor to Australia’s tourism offering. Tourism Australia markets the Great Barrier Reef as Australia’s iconic tourism destination to the global market, yet superyachts over 35m have been unable to enjoy this destination forcing Australian superyacht owners to take their vessels to Fiji and other Pacific countries rather than spend their tourism dollars in their own backyard.

David Good, operations manager for Cairns Marlin Marina, welcomed the additional superyacht anchorages. “Many superyachts over 35m have been deterred from heading south for cruising due to the restrictions on access for vessels in the Whitsundays,” he says. “With superyachts limited to a maximum of 12 persons, it was always very hard for visiting captains to understand the restrictions on access to one of the world’s best cruising grounds.

“These 21 new anchorages will really open up another cruising option and benefit the whole region by encouraging these vessels to stay longer and venture further,” Good adds. “The maintenance and logistics these vessels require when in the area benefit a massive number of small businesses, something that many businesses in regional Queensland will welcome.”