Research into the changing perceptions of tourists about the health of our Great Barrier Reef shows how the threat of climate change is becoming inescapable to visitors, says the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).
The research – Shifts in tourists’ sentiments and climate risk perceptions following mass coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef – is published today in the journal Nature Climate Change.
The research led by CSIRO surveyed a total of 4681 local and international tourists, with one group surveyed in 2013 and then a second group surveyed in 2017 after a major bleaching event that received international media coverage.
The tourists were asked about their perceptions of our Reef, how they related to it and also what they felt about its future and their ability to help conserve it.
David Cazzulino, AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaigner, said: “We want tourists to know that our beautiful Great Barrier Reef is a unique place to visit – unlike anywhere else on the planet. But we also want people to know that it has challenges, the biggest of which is climate change.
“The research found that in 2013, just 40 per cent of visitors thought climate change was the biggest threat to our Reef, but in 2017 this had jumped to 51 per cent.
“Government scientists have been saying since at least 2009 that climate change is the Reef’s biggest threat, so it’s encouraging that visitors are coming away from Queensland with a better understanding of the challenges our Reef faces.
“Queensland and Australia are custodians of the world’s greatest coral reef system, we have to lead by example and show there’s a bright future for everybody that’s beyond coal.
“Tackling the root cause of the climate crisis and investing in renewable energy will give our Reef the best chance for the future, protect 64,000 existing tourism jobs and create thousands of jobs in clean industries.”