Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching could cost $1b in lost tourism, research suggests
This is research about what people have been told, not research about the reef or actual tourist numbers. Far from tourism dying off amid the present state of the reef, we read
It comes as tourism booms in the region with Cairns leading the growth of hotels in Australia with demand strong and no new major hotel opening in the past two years. Hotel data benchmarking group STR Global has reported city hotel occupancies are up 6.6 per cent and revenues per available room have jumped nearly 14 per cent in the year to April 2016. Sales of hotels in the region have been strong on the back of the rise in tourism with five hotels selling for nearly $150m in the past 18 months
Cairns is of course the main jumping off point for reef tourism.
And why is tourism flourishing there? Because the situation is not as Greenies describe it. Tourism operators have no difficulty in taking people to flourishing reefs. There is bleaching in some parts but there are plenty of parts that are fine. There is nothing to disrupt the tourist experience
If there are problems with the reef they lie in what Greenies say about it. They do not lie with the reef itself. It is deceitful Greenies that are the problem
Continued coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef could see international and domestic visitors to the region plummet by more than a million people a year, research by the Australia Institute warns.
The institute surveyed more than 3,000 Chinese, US and UK visitors, as well as 1,400 domestic tourists.
The Great Barrier Reef and the Sydney Harbour Bridge were selected by international respondents as being their top Australian tourist attractions.
But the natural wonder is experiencing its most severe bleaching event on record, with an estimated 22 per cent of its coral, mostly in its northern sections, having died.
One of the survey questions in the Australia Institute research asked respondents: "If the Great Barrier Reef continues to experience severe bleaching and some of the reef dies completely, would you be more likely to choose an alternative holiday destination?"
More than one-third of Americans answered yes, as did 27 per cent of UK tourists and 55 per cent of Chinese.
"Across those three countries there are 175,000 tourists who risk not coming to Australia at all if the reef continues to be bleached," the Australia Institute's executive director Ben Oquist said.
The research states that nearly 900,000 Australian tourists would most likely choose somewhere else to visit if the reef continues to experience bleaching.
"Along with visitor numbers, the potential loss of tourism revenue represents almost one-third of the $3.3 billion spent by holiday visitors to reef regions each year, which supports between 39,000 and 45,000 jobs," the Australia Institute's report states.
"Around 10,000 jobs are at risk from decreased visitation and spending if severe coral bleaching of the reef continues."
"I definitely agree with [the research findings]," said John Rumney, who's been running reef tours off far north Queensland for 40 years.
"As soon as the reef passes that critical point, that tipping point, and we don't have something nice to show people, they'll stop coming."
According to The Guardian, some Cairns operators have reportedly refused to take journalists out on the reef for fear of feeding more negative publicity.
Mr Rumney said it was time his industry openly debated the future of the Great Barrier Reef.
"Everyone in the reef business knows in their hearts that their business is related to a healthy reef. It's just they're afraid to say anything about it because it will be construed as 'oh it's bad now, it's too late'. No, if we don't take any action it will be too late."
The Australia Institute research singles out coal as a leading contributor to climate change, which scientists in turn blame for rising sea temperatures and coral bleaching.
"Four in five people work in service industries, while only 1 per cent work in the coal industry," the report said. "Policies such as a moratorium on new coal mines can be implemented with a minimal effect on the Queensland economy."
Two-thirds of Australian respondents in the survey said there would be a negative impact on the reef if Australia continues to build new coal mines.
"If we're going to save the Barrier Reef and if we're going to address climate change it's clear the world has got to start burning less coal and using less coal and to start that we've got to start approving less mines," Mr Oquist said.