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The Resilience of the Reef (and Reef Tourism)

By Duan Biggs

The lifestyle values of reef tourism companies contribute to the resilience of those companies and to better conservation outcomes for the Reef itself.

Duan Biggs is a researcher with the Environmental Decisions Group, and is based at the University of Queensland. This research was done with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

The Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia’s most spectacular natural attractions. Tourism to the reef contributes $5.8 billion to the Australian economy per annum and sustains 55,000 jobs.

Yet coral reefs on the Great Barrier Reef and worldwide are under threat from climate change, overfishing, and land-based pollutants from agriculture and development. As a result there is concern over the future of the Great Barrier Reef’s tourism sector, and the communities that depend on it.

Reef tourism is not only under threat from the degradation of coral reefs, it is also subject to a range of other socio-economic and political disturbances – anything that negatively affects the number of tourists travelling to the Great Barrier Reef. For example, the terrorist attacks in the USA in 2001 and the Asian outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 both negatively impacted on tourism to the Reef. More recently, the financial crisis of 2008 and the ongoing global recession, coupled with a strong Australian dollar, have spelt tough times for the reef tourism industry.

Tough times in this specialist nature-based tourism sector should be of concern to conservationists. Reef tourism companies play an important role in local conservation activities on reefs, such as crown-of-thorns-starfish outbreaks over the past decade. In addition, a vibrant...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.