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Great Barrier Reef tourism operators call for action to tackle climate change

Great Barrier Reef tourism operators call for action to tackle climate change
May 7, 2016

A group of Queensland tourism industry stakeholders have broken silence about the degradation of the Great Barrier Reef, with more than 170 businesses and individuals appealing to the Australian government to take urgent action to tackle climate change and ensure the reef survives.

A letter signed by multiple business and individuals connected to Great Barrier Reef tourism has been sent to politicians, including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, with an abridged version published today (Saturday 7th May) in the Mackay Daily Mercury.

Many tourism operators in Queensland have previously been quiet about concerns for the reef, fearful that speaking about the mass bleaching event would turn tourists away, lowering their incomes in the short term.

However, with large sections of the Great Barrier Reef experiencing the worst bleaching event ever seen, the operators have written to several politicians, including Prime Minister Turnbull, Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt and local representatives, as well as taking out an advertisement in the Mackay Daily Mercury.

John Rumney, who has run diving and fishing tours on the Great Barrier Reef for the past four decades, stated “many tourism operators, they don’t want people not to come to the reef, so they’ve been reluctant to speak out.

“They are worried it will have a negative impact on the short-term cash flow. But if we don’t take care of this issue we will have no reef in the future.”

Tourism operators in North Queensland have reportedly been reluctant to take media and politicians to see coral bleaching, fearing it would hurt the industry, with one operator refusing to take the Australian Greens leader Richard Di Natale to the reef at the end of April.

The letter states “we are proud of our stewardship of this incredible resource. We understand its value lies in looking after it.

“We hope the majority of the reef can recover but Australia must start doing everything it can to tackle the root cause of the coral bleaching, which is global warming.”

The letter criticises the Queensland and Federal Governments for approving Adani’s Carmichael coalmine, which would be the largest in Australia, adding “when burnt, the coal from this mine will accelerate global warming and bleaching events.”

It also criticises the plans for expanding the Abbot Point coal terminal, which has sparked controversy since it would cause sediment to wash over the reef and increase shipping traffic through the reef.

The letter published in the Mackay Daily Mercury carries fewer names with the Guardian Australia reporting that “some operators didn’t want their names made public, worried they would experience backlash from other businesses that thought it would impact tourist numbers.”

In 2013, tourism on the Great Barrier Reef was estimated to employ more than 64,000 people and contribute at least $5.2bn to the Australian economy each year.

The letter makes three key demands:

• Rule out any financing or investment in the Carmichael mine or Abbot Point expansion, including for infrastructure like rail and port development.
• Rapidly shift to renewable energy.
• Rule out any new coalmines to “rapidly reduce global warming, the biggest threat to the Great Barrier Reef”.

On Saturday, Australia’s Climate Council – a crowd-funded communications body that formed after the government axed the Climate Commission – released a report on the bleaching event. It concluded that to save coral reefs global emissions must peak by 2020.

It notes that the pledges made in Paris at COP21 would see temperature rise by about 3C, which would destroy the world’s coral reefs.

In 2013, tourism on the Great Barrier Reef was estimated to employ more than 64,000 people and contribute at least $5.2bn to the Australian economy each year.

Click here to visit the Daily Mercury website.

Images: Snorkelling at Fitzroy Island (top) and the letter published in the Mackay Daily Mercury signed by tourism operators concerned about the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef (below).

3rd May 2016 - TOUR OPERATOR SHUNS TAKING GREENS SENATORS TO BARRIER REEF OVER FEARS OF ‘BAD PUBLICITY’

23rd December 2015 - GREAT BARRIER REEF TOURISM OPERATORS CONSIDER IMPLICATIONS OF COAL PORT SPOIL DUMPING

14th December 2015 - TOURISM LEADERS WELCOME PARIS AGREEMENT ON CLIMATE CHANGE

1st October 2015 - TOURISM AUSTRALIA BEGINS FILMING ON $40 MILLION AQUATIC AND COASTAL MARKETING CAMPAIGN

17th March 2015 - TOURISM AUSTRALIA BACKS SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH GREAT BARRIER REEF DOCUMENTARY PROJECT

 3rd June 2013 - CAIRNS TOURISM TECHNOLOGY ON SHOW TO AUSTRALIA


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We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

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