The Great Barrier Reef is skating on thin ice as an environmental icon, with UNESCO releasing its draft decision not to list it as an “in danger” World Heritage site.
Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ) welcomed the decision, with the chief executive officer Alex de Waal saying the decision acknowledged Australia had the right environmental credentials to manage this key natural asset.
“Tropical North Queensland’s tourism industry will continue its vital role in protecting the Great Barrier Reef by participating in conservation initiatives, aiding research and educating the public about the value of this precious environment,” de Waal said.
“The world’s attention will be on the Great Barrier Reef as various programs including the critical Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan are implemented.
“We invite visitors to see first-hand just how seriously Tropical North Queensland’s tourism industry take its role as a guardian of this World Heritage area by visiting the Great Barrier Reef.”
The Great Barrier Reef drew in more than 860,000 visitors in 2013-2014, with the industry continuing to promote its sustainable strategies to protecting the landmark drawcard.
“The Tropical North Queensland tourism industry will continue to provide leadership to the global community by hosting people on the Great Barrier Reef, teaching them about the World Heritage area and working to ensure its preservation is secure,” de Waal added.
“The Great Barrier Reef is the lifeblood of Tropical North Queensland’s tourism industry, but is also a valuable part of our community’s lifestyle and it is a lifestyle and livelihood that we want to protect and share with the world.”
“Ask the operator you are travelling with what they do to protect the Reef and you will hear about the incredible commitment and passion they have for the environment they work in. This includes operators who have become carbon neutral, others who employ marine biologists to contribute to Reef research and many who participate in scientific monitoring and pest eradication programs.”
“These actions are not mandatory and they are done at the expense of the operator, often with staff volunteering their time to participate.