How is the tourism industry already contributing to protecting the Reef?
Tourism operators showcase the beauty and cultural significance of the Reef’s outstanding values by providing world-class nature-based experiences. They play an important role in monitoring and protecting the biodiversity that supports their nationally significant industry.
The Reef 2050 Plan recognises the substantial work already undertaken by tourism operators to protect the Great Barrier Reef. The tourism industry recognises the importance of maintaining a healthy and globally iconic Reef.
There are many great examples of work being undertaken by the tourism industry that benefits the Reef including:
- Providing excellent interpretation and education services to national and international guests with knowledge and skills recognised and enhanced through programs such as the Master Reef Guides.
- High Standard Tourism Operators voluntarily operate to a higher standard than required by legislation as part of their commitment to ecologically sustainable use. These operators are independently certified as meeting best practice management standards for the key areas of protection, presentation and partnership.
- Site stewardship and resilience building activities by the tourism industry help maintain high value tourism sites. Site stewardship actions include complying with all regulatory requirements, implementing sustainable business practices through eco-certification, participating in the Eye on the Reef program – Reef health monitoring and sightings network, and supporting protection and recovery of reefs through local scale research and intervention activities such as coral gardening and culling coral predators (e.g. crown-of-thorns-starfish and Drupella snails) and assisting with reef health incident response including reorienting corals flipped over by tropical cyclones and monitoring corals during bleaching events.
- Tourism operators collect the Environmental Management Charge (EMC) from tourists and provide it to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (the Reef Authority) along with visitor data. EMC funds are used for day-to-day management of the Marine Park and improving its long-term resilience. Visitor data is essential for ensuring the sustainable use of the Marine Park.
- The Reef Authority’s Tourism Reef Advisory Committee (TRAC) provides advice on actions to address the risks identified in the Great Barrier Reef Region Strategic Assessment Report, the Great Barrier Reef Blueprint for Resilience and the Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report. The TRAC works closely with the Reef Authority providing advice on strategic direction and policies for managing the Marine Park.
How has the Reef 2050 Plan supported the tourism industry?
The Australian and Queensland governments, in partnership with industry and stakeholders, have implemented a range of Reef 2050 Plan actions that have benefited the Reef and the tourism industry.
Key achievements include:
- The Reef Authority trained 80 Master Reef Guides as interpreters and storytellers to share the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef.
- The Reef Authority’s Reef Discovery Course helps tourism operators improve their knowledge and understanding of the Great Barrier Reef, its cultural connections, biological diversity, management and protection, and how best to interpret this information to visitors.
- The Great Barrier Reef Blueprint for Resilience supported tourism operators to enhance their site stewardship through supporting active, localised restoration.
- The Reef Authority’s Tourism Management Action Strategy outlines how tourism on the Reef will be managed and supported. The vision is for ecologically sustainable and culturally sensitive tourism that supports transformational, world leading visitor experiences. The strategy aims to simplify and improve tourism management, reduce regulatory burden and recognise and involve Traditional Owners.
- The Australian Government waived Great Barrier Reef Marine Park permit application fees and the environmental management charge to help tourism operators manage the impacts of COVID-19.
- The Tourism Industry Activation and Reef Protection Initiative, through the Australian Government’s COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund, engaged tourism operators to undertake activities to conserve and protect high-value Reef tourism sites. This provided employment for the tourism industry and ensured key tourism sites were maintained.
- The Queensland Government’s $25 million Great Barrier Reef Island Resorts Rejuvenation Program is funding projects focused on growing, greening and cleaning island resorts.
What does the updated Reef 2050 Plan mean for Tourism?
Tourism operators are key partners in delivering Reef 2050 Plan actions. Commercial marine tourism is the largest Reef-dependent industry within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, historically offering access to more than two million people a year.
The Great Barrier Reef’s health is critically important to the reputation of this globally iconic tourism destination and the value of the tourism industry.
That is why the Australian and Queensland governments are working with the tourism industry and other industries, local governments, scientists, Traditional Owners, farmers, and the community to deliver on the priorities for the Reef.
The updated Reef 2050 Plan includes strategic actions in five key work areas and four enabling areas. Tourism operators are involved in all areas of the Plan, but more specifically in actions related to:
- Work area 1 – Limit the impacts of climate change:
- Contributing to Australia’s emission reduction targets by educating Reef visitors and adopting measures as part of their own operations.
- Communicating the implications of climate change for the Reef and the emissions reduction outcomes required to secure the Reef’s future, to encourage additional effort to reduce emissions.
- Supporting the trial of intervention options to help key habitats and species adapt to the effects of climate change (including small-scale in-field deployments and further research to develop full-scale in-field deployments).
- Work area 2 – Reduce impacts from land-based activities:
- Reducing plastic pollution through implementing the Queensland Government’s ban on single-use plastics
- Improving practices in sensitive shoreline ecosystems including managing industrial light near marine turtle nesting areas.
- Supporting enhanced compliance for activities in protected areas.
- Work area 3 – Reduce impacts from water-based activities:
- Encouraging and supporting stewardship actions and behaviours that reduce impacts by partnering and collaborating with Traditional Owners, other industries, research providers, local councils, government agencies, Reef users and interested stakeholders.
- Increasing knowledge and awareness of the Reef’s biodiversity and heritage values so guests understand and connect themselves to the potential impacts of water-based activities.
- Implementing measures that reduce artificial light impacts from marine vessels and infrastructure.
- Supporting innovative surveillance and control to prevent pest and invasive species establishing and spreading within marine and island environments.
- Supporting the installation of waste facilities at marinas and ports along the Reef coastline to reduce at-sea disposal.
- Work area 4 – Influence the reduction of international sources of impact:
- Supporting capacity-building activities including targeted education and awareness raising about marine debris and pollution.
- Working with government, industry, other partners and the community to reduce marine debris through source reduction and clean-up activities.
- Work area 5 – Protect, rehabilitate and restore:
- Supporting the enhancement of crown-of-thorns starfish control on key reefs, including reefs of high ecological and economic value.
- Trialling new remediation techniques to help key habitats and species recover from incidents and the effects of climate change.
- Supporting localised and scalable Reef intervention activities that are cost effective, feasible and in accordance with legislation and best-practice policies.
- Reducing outbreaks of pests, introduced species and diseases through localised approaches to pest mitigation (including crown-of-thorns starfish, Drupella snail and other pest species that impact on Reef values).
- Conducting environmental monitoring and contributing to citizen science.
How was the tourism industry involved in developing the Reef 2050 Plan?
The Reef 2050 Plan was developed in consultation with the Reef 2050 advisory bodies and stakeholders.
The Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators (AMPTO) is a member of the Reef 2050 Advisory Committee.
The Reef Authority’s TRAC provided advice during the drafting process and individual tourism operators also made submissions on the draft Plan.
How will Reef investment be prioritised going forward?
Through an increasing focus on partnerships and innovative financing, there are opportunities to boost and diversify investment for Reef protection and management.
There are eight priority areas for investment under this Plan:
Infographic shows the following investment priorities: Water quality improvement, modern marine park management, crown-of-thorns starfish control, integrated monitoring and reporting, climate change, Traditional Owner priorities, sustainable fisheries, restoration and adaptation
Governments and other partners who are delivering actions will be guided by the Reef 2050 investment principles set out in the Reef 2050 Plan.
Through investing in these priorities, all will benefit from a healthy and protected Great Barrier Reef.
What’s next for Reef 2050?
The Australian and Queensland governments will continue to work collaboratively with partners to implement the Reef 2050 Plan. Engagement will occur directly with the tourism industry and through the AMPTO representative on the Reef 2050 Advisory Committee.