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'Premier destination': EOI campaign opens to run marine park whale tours

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A rare opportunity to operate a whale-watching business in a renowned marine park is on offer.

The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service is calling for expressions of interest for commercial whale-watching tours in the Great Sandy Marine Park.

QPWS is looking to engage operators to undertake sustainable whale-watching activities focussing on the annual humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) migration through the marine park, a significant event attracting interest from across the globe.

Related story: Whales ahoy! Coast welcomes gentle giants’ return

QPWS wildlife assessment manager Adam Northam said the Great Sandy Marine Park provided an ideal setting for observing the humpbacks in their natural habitat around Hervey Bay.

“The Great Sandy Marine Park is a premier destination for whale-watching enthusiasts and nature lovers alike,” he said.

The EOI calls for applications from individuals, partnerships or companies with a strong commitment to environmental stewardship and a track record in successfully managing and promoting ecotourism ventures.

A humpback has a spy hop at whale-watching cruise passengers. Picture: Shirley Sinclair

“This is an opportunity for commercial operations to showcase the marine park’s natural beauty and contribute to the region’s conservation efforts through responsible whale-watching operations,” Mr Northam said.

Current agreements to operate whale-watching ventures in the Great Sandy Marine Park expire in December.

Marine park regulations place a 10-year limit on the length of these agreements, preventing them from simply being extended, instead requiring new agreements to be arranged via an application or EOI process.

These processes provide a way for potential whale-watching operators to express their interest, and an avenue for current operators to reapply for new agreements.

The EOI campaign is now open and closes on May 7. More information is available on QTenders website.

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