UK Journalist visits our Keppels and Southern Great Barrier Reef

This week, Capricorn Enterprise hosted UK journalist Lydia Bell, from The Daily Telegraph, who travelled directly to the Keppel Islands to write a story on the incredible health and diversity of our Southern Great Barrier Reef.  Lydia stayed on Pumpkin Island for two nights as well as visiting Great Keppel Island for a day, experiencing activities surrounding our magnificent natural environment.  Lydia met Dr. Alison Jones, research expert on the reefs around the Keppels. She also visited Cooberrie Park Wildlife Sanctuary where she was able to get up close with a wide variety of wonderful Australian animals.

With a daily circulation of 484,010, a readership of over 3 million (20 million online) and a full page advertising value equivalent of £59,000, The Daily Telegraph is the UK’s No 1 news brand with loyal and affluent readers with an average of more than £100k in savings – more than the readers of any other UK newspaper.

This visit, organised by Tourism and Events Queensland, was in direct response to the widely international reported press around coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef.  It is important that journalists visit and meet with marine scientists and our operators to hear and experience first hand a balanced and honest overview on what is happening as well as the role tourism plays in conservation through commerce.

The Great Barrier Reef is a vast and diverse natural asset – more than 69 million football fields in size – around six per cent of the marine park is coral. The challenges facing the GBR are part of a global challenge that has been affecting the world’s coral reefs.

The GBR has fared better than many of the world’s reefs due to its size and biodiversity.

The management of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is world leading and through world leading thinking marine scientists are looking at news ways to secure the Reef’s future and build resilience. The GBR continues to offer exceptional visitor experiences and there is so much to see and do along the 2,300 kilometre length of the Reef.

Tourism dollars make an important contribution towards Reef protection and management. For example, anyone who visits the Reef with a commercial operator contributes $6.50 a day to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) through the Environmental Management Charge. This contribution is vitally important in the day-to-day management of the marine park and in improving its long-term resilience, and allows for investment in education and research, ranger patrols, site planning, public moorings, reef protection markers and information signs and maps. 

Around 80 per cent of all tourism activity occurs within seven (7) percent of the Great Barrier Reef region and all commercial and recreational activities are regulated by GBRMPA.

The Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators Pty Ltd (AMPTO) is the peak industry body for marine tourism within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. AMPTO works closely with the GBRMPA to continually monitor and improve management of the reef and to work to ensure marine tourism is a minimal impact industry committed to sustainable practices to ensure the future of the reef. For example, AMPTO is at the frontline of the effort to combat Crown of Thorns Starfish.

Deloitte Access Economics report into the economic, social and icon value of the GBR (released 26 June 2017) found the GBR contributes 6.4 billion to the Australian economy and supports 64,000 jobs. Tourism in the GBR marine park adds 5.7 billion in economic value and supports almost 59,000 full time jobs.  The tourism industry plays a vital role in protecting the reef and sharing its stories with consumers.

This report is a valuable addition to the current discussions around the Reef and its challenges and underlines how critical it is to protect the Reef for generations to come.

Calls to action

  • Local operators and visitors are encouraged to share their experiences through hash-tagging Instagram pictures with #visitcapricorn #southerngreatbarrierreef #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
  • The tourism industry plays a vital role as part of GBRMPA’s early warning system alerting the authority to impacts to reef health. Visitors and Operators can help through the Eye on the Reef program which includes an app that can be downloaded to record and relay observations, including photos back to GBRMPA.
  • Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef is a social movement to unite people from around the world to learn about and care about the Reef. To join the movement visit citizensgbr.org
  • Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef is getting underway! On August 31 the website will go live and Citizens can start recruiting to their goal of 5,000 inspired people to engage with the Reef. To help achieve this, Citizens are developing a recruitment app that will attribute the people you sign up back to your business. Coinciding with the website, the Citizens Gateway will be unveiled on the Cairns Esplanade. Designed by indigenous artist Brian Robinson, the sculpture captures the spirit of the Reef through a wave of traditional carvings of marine life. If you haven’t already, sign up for the Toolkit and keep getting creative with it, and Citizens  will make sure to keep you updated on their website.

Until next time…

Mary Carroll CEO Capricorn Enterprise

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