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Great Barrier Reef Transportation Goes Green

by Mary Melnick

Dec 23, 2022

© Marco Brivio | Dreamstime.com


Visitors to the Great Barrier Reef can now enjoy silence on the reef with zero-emission scenic flights and hybrid-electronic catamarans. The region’s operators plan to eliminate their carbon footprint as much as possible, with businesses seeking a renewable energy source for transportation.


“With two World Heritage areas side by side, Tropical North Queensland has long been a leader in environmental initiatives and is the most Eco-certified destination in Australia with 62 companies and 182 experiences accredited through the scheme,” said Mark Olsen, CEO, Tourism Tropical North Queensland. “Transportation is the greatest challenge in reducing emissions, so our operators are partnering with leaders in this field to develop more efficient ways of showcasing the Great Barrier Reef and the world’s oldest rainforest.”


Cairns Premier Great Barrier Reef and Island Tours received a $200,000 grant from the Queensland Government’s Tourism Experience Development Fund to work with marine engine manufacturers Volvo Penta to build a 24-meter electric hybrid catamaran for 60 passengers. Perry Jones and Taryn Agius, owners of Cairns Premier Great Barrier Reef and Island Tours, have operated dive and snorkeling tours for almost three decades on their vessels Ocean Free and Ocean Freedom, with each tour prioritizing sustainability.


Northern Australia’s largest helicopter operator, Nautilus Aviation, a division of The Morris Group, ordered 10 zero-emission electric vertical aircraft to offer scenic flights over the Great Barrier Reef by 2026. Nautilus also partnered with Eve Air Mobility to introduce the fleet as part of Morris Group’s commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2030.


Aaron Finn, CEO, Nautilus Aviation said, “The company had held Advanced Ecotourism Certification for 10 years, recently being awarded Green Travel Leader status, and was looking forward to eliminating their use of fuel to power scenic flights. This will allow us to provide emission-free, quiet tours over the Great Barrier Reef, providing an unmatched eco experience for our customers.”


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