Commercial tourism operator support

The Queensland Government has introduced an Immediate Industry Recovery Package to assist local government, business and industry with resilience and recovery strategies to deal with and mitigate impacts of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Find out more about the Immediate Industry Recovery Package.

Commercial tour operators working on Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service-managed areas

Tourism operators in Queensland are required to pay daily site fees based on visitor numbers if they conduct business in a national park, conservation park, recreation area or state forest under a commercial activity agreement or permit.

However, for activities conducted between 1 February 2020 and 31 March 2021, the Department of Environment and Science will not charge these daily fees as part of the Immediate Industry Recovery Package. Extending the period of relief beyond the current end date of 30 September 2020 is intended to boost cashflow for operators and help provide some relief from lower visitor numbers during the impacts of the coronavirus on the state’s tourism industry.

The department is working directly with tourism operators that have a commercial activity agreement or permit on Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service-managed areas to provide information and further detail about this support.

During this period, it is a requirement that businesses continue to report on their tour operations (including participant numbers) as normal by submitting their annual return in December 2020.

Whale watching operators

The department is waiving the annual commercial whale watching fee for the 2020 season to support affected businesses.

Questions and answers

    Who is eligible for temporary fee relief?

    Anyone with a current commercial activity permit or commercial activity agreement to conduct tours on protected areas or State forests may be entitled to temporary fee relief under the Immediate Industry Recovery Package.

    Fees payable for commercial filming or barge operations on these areas will not be affected.

    What fees am I relieved from?

    For any tours or activities you conduct under your permit or agreement (i.e. for the people you bring to an area authorised under your permit), you will not need to pay daily site fees.

    This relief will apply to any activities you conduct between 1 February 2020 and 31 March 2021 on:

    • protected areas (such as national park or conservation park)
    • State forest, forest reserve or timber reserve and
    • recreation areas

    You will still need to pay:

    • annual permit fees
    • any other annual payments
    • application fees (for renewals or new authorities)
    • ranger supervision fees, or other supervision fees associated with your agreement.

    What is the reason for the fee relief?

    The fee relief is a component of the Queensland Government’s response to advice from the tourism industry about how businesses have been impacted by COVID-19 (coronavirus). This Immediate Industry Recovery Package includes targeted financial support and advice that will help sustain jobs and businesses.

    See more information about the Immediate Industry Recovery Package.

    Do I still need to submit returns?

    Yes. Please complete your return of operations forms as normal during this period to record the activities you conducted under your permit.

    To ensure that your return fees for the quarter are calculated correctly and you are not charged a fee, please record all paying participants in the Exempt column for the:

    • second and third months of the January to March 2020 quarter
    • remaining quarters in 2020 (that is, April to December 2020)
    • whole of the January to March 2021 quarters.

    Must I still have a permit or agreement before I can operate?

    Yes. The relief package only applies to daily site fees.

    It will not affect:

    • which locations you can access
    • any other conditions in your permit or agreement about how you conduct the activity
    • the circumstances in which you will need to apply for a new commercial activity permit or agreement
    • your returns reporting obligations.

    Will my permit or agreement conditions change?

    If you hold a commercial activity permit, your conditions will not need to change.

    Commercial activity agreement holders will receive an amendment schedule noting the details of the fees that will not be payable for the stated period.

    Why am I still being charged for the January to March 2020 quarter?

    As the fee relief began from 1 February 2020, you will still need to pay daily site fees for any tours or activities conducted in January 2020 or earlier quarters (if any are due).

    You will only be entitled to a refund if you have already submitted your return for February 2020 and paid fees for this month. Daily site fees are still payable for January 2020. For January 2020, please record all paying participants as normal (all participants are only ‘exempt’ for February and March) to ensure your return fees calculate correctly.

    Who can I contact?

    For more information, please email