Unlicenced tour operator fined for Daintree tours

Issued: 3 Jun 2021

An unlicenced tour operator has been fined $6,000 in the Cairns Magistrate’s Court after pleading guilty to conducting commercial tours in the Daintree National Park without a permit.

On June 2, the man pleaded guilty to five offences of unlawfully conducting commercial tours in the Daintree National Park, contrary to section 105(1) of the Nature Conservation (Protected Areas Management) Regulation 2017.

He was also ordered to pay $1,500 in legal costs.

The Department of Environment and Science Executive Director James Newman said he welcomed the penalty that was imposed by the court.

“The conduct by this person constitutes serious non-compliance of the obligations of commercial operators,” Mr Newman said.

“Commercial tour operators must have an authorised commercial activity permit to escort people through any of Queensland’s national parks.

“This helps ensure tour operators conduct guided tours that are culturally appropriate, sustainable, high quality and able to deliver nature-based experiences across a range of protected areas.

These protected areas are traditional lands for First Nations people and hold immense and important values.

“We want people who are investing money on a tour to Queensland’s magnificent national parks to have a wonderful experience.

“Customers need to be assured that commercial tour operators are properly insured, authorised and capable of conducting commercial guided tours in a competent and ethical manner.”

Chief Executive of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) Daniel Gschwind said he was pleased that the court had enforced the rules.

“The QTIC are committed to a strong, regulated tourism industry and we support the Department in taking this court action,” Mr Gschwind said.

“The wider tourism industry is doing the right thing by obtaining commercial activity permits, and this helps protect the industry and also protects the tourism operators.

“Rogue operators are not welcome, as they damage the reputation of the tourism sector, they can damage the environment and the QTIC wants to see them out of the industry.”

Mr Newman said the Department routinely conducts compliance patrols and works with tourism operators to ensure they have the relevant permits.

“During a recent compliance blitz on commercial tour operators in the Daintree region, rangers and compliance officers encountered this person’s employees leading unauthorised tours,” he said.

“People who conduct unauthorised commercial tours can potentially take clients into areas of the estate that are closed or are environmentally or culturally sensitive.

“Unauthorised tour operators undermine the viability of the industry and can potentially gain a competitive advantage over tour operators who do the right thing.

“If you suspect a person doesn’t have the relevant permits to conduct tours in our national parks, please call the Department on 1300 130 372.”