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Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority delivers training program for Reef guides

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority delivers training program for Reef guides
February 18, 2019

The training program which is delivered by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators and Tourism and Events Queensland, is the first of its kind for the Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef recently welcomed its first official interpreters, story tellers and ambassadors, the Master Reef Guides. These 13 specially-trained guides will now be working in tourism operations throughout the Reef to educate visitors about Reef management and protection, responsible practices, and citizen science.

GBRMPA Director of Education, Stewardship and Partnerships Fred Nucifora said the guides would be fantastic ambassadors for the Reef, advising "we’re delighted to welcome the first Master Reef Guides to the Great Barrier Reef.

“These world-leading storytellers and Reef ambassadors will enhance visitors’ experiences along the Reef by providing in-depth information about the marine environment and its management.

“They’ll also get visitors involved in citizen science, which is a unique and valuable way anyone visiting the Reef can contribute information and inform reef management.”

The Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators Executive Officer Col McKenzie said the guides provided an opportunity for tourism operators to raise the bar.

McKenzie advised “the Great Barrier Reef tourism industry plays a vital role in presenting the values of the World Heritage Area to millions of visitors annually and the industry really got on-board with this program.

“The program ensures tourism operators and staff have up-to-date and accurate information on the Marine Park and are trained to share this information with visitors in a valuable and memorable way.”

This inaugural cohort of 13 Master Reef Guides will now be seen in uniform on tourism operations along the Reef.

Among the new recruits is Natalie Lobartolo, a marine biologist and dive instructor on Lady Musgrave Island.

Lobartolo added “I’m part of a small group with a big potential for impact  by educating visitors about the Reef and why it’s important to protect it, that’s how I can make a difference.

“Through this program I’ve been empowered with tools, knowledge, support and encouragement. We’re set to educate, enthuse and excite people about this magical place.”

After a merit-based nomination process, 13 of the best tourism guides operating along the Reef were selected for the program and took part in a comprehensive online training course and field school.

Held in November 2018, the four-day intensive and immersive field school between Brisbane and Lady Elliot Island covered key skills like public speaking, story-telling and science communicators.

The Master Reef Guides program includes ongoing training, networking and leadership development to assist the guides and other staff along the Great Barrier Reef to further their knowledge and experience.

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