The Queensland government’s $15.1 million investment in 26 tourism operators in Far North Queensland to bolster conservation in the Great Barrier Reef has been welcomed by both conservation and tourism groups.
Special Envoy to the Great Barrier Reef Senator Nita Green said the funds would support an international tourism revival in the region.
“An investment in the reef is an investment in regional communities right along the Queensland coast,” she said.
“The stewardship provided by these operators in close partnership with the Reef Authority, will provide improved reef health monitoring capacity, conservation, and protection activities across the great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.”
The funding will go towards programs including reef health monitoring, control of crown of thorns starfish and reef education resources to elevate the visitor experience to the reef.
Tourism Tropical North Queensland CEO Mark Olsen said operators had played an important part in reef conservation for decades.
“This funding assistance will help our operators to continue these important activities and spend time monitoring the health of the reef to assist with research,” he said.
“We’re seeing great results in coral cover and we’re also seeing fantastic results from the tourism industry in working on programs like the crown-of-thorns starfish.
“But remember, we’re talking about a one-billion-dollar international tourism industry that is currently running at just seven per cent of its pre-pandemic levels.”
Dougie Baird, from Quicksilver Cruises, said the funding is a confidence boost for many operators.
“This allows us to guarantee that we’ll be operating on set dates, which then allows our travel agents to book on those dates with the surety that we are actually going to travel,” Baird said.
Perry Jones, from Ocean Free, said the funding will allow them to survey the whole reef.
“What it allows us to do is we’ve got lots of moorings out there, but we’ve got one special one, Briggs Reef, which is a real jewel in the crown,” Jones said.
“It’s going to allow us to actually. We’re going to put send people down 30 meters all the way up to the flats and really check this reef out.
“It’s a beautiful reef and we want to keep it that way.”