As one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the iconic Great Barrier Reef is understandably on the bucket list for tourists and divers from all over the world.
Pre-pandemic, over two million people visited the Great Barrier Reef annually. Marine tourism supports more than 60,000 jobs and is one of the largest contributors to the Australian economy from reef-dependent activities in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
While the Great Barrier Reef covers 344,400 square kilometres in area, tourism is concentrated to just 7 per cent of the total Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Most reef tourism, approximately 86% occurs within waters adjacent to Cairns, Port Douglas and the Whitsundays in North Queensland.
Marine tourism operators have a vested interest in ensuring the Great Barrier Reef stays great and are key partners in its protection and management with the lead management agency, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
The environmental management levy paid by visitors to the Marine Park contributes to all aspects of GBRMPA’s management, from education and research to ranger patrols and policy development.
When choosing your reef experience, look for Ecotourism certified operators to be assured of commitment to sustainable practices. Sustainable operators help showcase the Reef’s natural values and play an important role in protecting it.
Natural environments across the planet face challenges from climate change and here on the Great Barrier Reef, tourism operators are actively working to be part of the solution. Many reef operators are involved in industry wide monitoring programs, collaborative research and coral nurturing projects, to protect and build resilience into this impressive world wonder for future generations.