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Great Barrier Reef confirmed as a ‘National Landscape’

Great Barrier Reef confirmed as a ‘National Landscape’
March 3, 2012

A change is underway for tourism in the Great Barrier Reef, with the region being named Australia's newest National Landscape.

The National Landscapes program identifies 'the best of nature' in Australia, helping locals get to the crux of what they can offer visitors and then marketing that unique offer to the world.

Federal Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson and Environment Minister Tony Burke congratulated the business operators who are steering Reef tourism in a new direction.

Minister Ferguson stated "like many of our tourism regions, the Great Barrier Reef wants to evolve and improve what it offers so it can meet the increasingly sophisticated expectations of today's visitors.

"Becoming a National Landscape is the Reef community's way of choosing its own future ï¾ it has prompted them to think carefully about what makes this place unique and how to reflect that in every visitor touch point, from accommodation and tour options to the signs in public places.

"The National Landscapes process gets the region speaking to visitors in one voice, and that's a big advantage in today's highly competitive market."

Minister Burke said a series of local workshops had identified the intricacy and diversity of the Reef's natural environments as the area's unique selling point, adding "the Great Barrier Reef is one of the world's greatest treasures and we are proud of our management of it.

"Each of its 900 islands and 2900 coral reefs offers a glimpse into a different underwater world.

"Nature is the number one thing that attracts overseas visitors to our shores, so all the work we do to protect the Great Barrier Reef is crucial to the tourism sector.

"Exploring Australia's National Landscapes turns visitors into advocates ï¾ they get a deeper understanding of the environment, they can see how fragile it is and they want to help protect it."

As a World Heritage Area and international icon the Reef features prominently in Tourism Australia's international marketing. It now joins 12 other regions as National Landscapes, including Australia's Red Centre, the Kimberley and the Australian Alps.

The Great Barrier Reef National Landscape Steering Committee, made up of local tourism stakeholders, will now prepare an Experience Development Strategy, identifying future opportunities for tourism businesses, ways to fill product and infrastructure gaps, environmental management priorities and marketing plans.

The addition of the Great Barrier Reef to the National Landscapes program is an endorsement of its valuable contribution to Australia's tourism industry according to the Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF).

TTF Chief Executive John Lee said the Great Barrier Reef is one of the world's great tourist attractions, stating "the Great Barrier Reef has an international reputation few other sites enjoy and its inclusion as a National Landscape will ensure that recognition continues to grow.

"The National Landscapes program will help to ensure a co-ordinated approach between government and the industry which relies so heavily on this important natural asset.

"The Great Barrier Reef supports an estimated 60,000 jobs and is a $5 billion asset for Queensland.

"Tourism is the main economic driver in many coastal towns in north Queensland and this program will help raise awareness among international visitors, which can help drive export earnings as well as helping fund future investment in conservation.

"This is an approach which is now being used for a number of our unique areas and assists different levels of government and the private sector to work together towards a common objective."

National Landscapes is a partnership between Tourism Australia and Parks Australia, helping regional tourism operators to develop quality tourism products and services that celebrate the environmental significance and importance of Australia's unique landscapes.

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