Tourism has always played a huge part in the Great Barrier Reef. In fact it started in the 1950s and has only increased since then. Today, about 2-3million people flock to this phenomenon each year. While educating people on the amazing life and journey that it has undertaken, it’s also killing it.
Large sections of the marine park are sectioned off because they have already been deemed to be so damaged that no one can go there. This therefore puts more stress on smaller areas that are available for people to travel to. Because of the reef providing roughly $2 billion to the Australian economy, there is little to no chance that the government would risk closing down all of it for a period of time for it to recuperate and therefore would constantly be putting more stress on section parts of the park.
Many companies these days have an ‘Eco Certification Program’, which is an initiative towards creating more of an ecotourism mind. Ecotourism is ‘ecologically sustainable tourism with a primary focus on experiencing natural areas that fosters environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation’ [Great Adventures].
Many of the tourists though do not understand the importance of their one-day on the reef and the everlasting impact that it could make. When they step on that one coral and break it, it has large repercussions throughout the entire reef. Even more so these days when each coral that has colouring left is almost a rare species. When a tourist boat changes course by even the slightest centimetre, this could mean scraping off a part of the coral and damaging it. Slight things that we don’t even realise we are doing are creating the largest changes. Boats constantly dropping their anchors in different positions of the reef are breaking off different parts of the coral and therefore are damaging more and more coral every time tourists visit the reef [Skwirk]. The wastes that are left on the reef are also not thought of. One tourist dropping rubbish thinks it’s just them, but one tourist per day (only) is 365 tourists a year. If tourists have been visiting the Great Barrier Reef since 1950, which therefore means 24,090 people that have deposited rubbish on the Reef.
The tourists also scare away the animals that regulate the islands within and around the reef. 6 of the worlds 7 endangered species frequent the islands within the reef to mate and reproduce. With tourists now possibly frequenting these islands even more so, it puts the turtles even more in danger of becoming extinct with nowhere to reproduce close by. Many species are endemic to this reef. Endemism is when a species only occurs in that particular area of the world and nowhere else, (e.g. Tasmanian Tiger only occurred in Australia).
Are we prepared to not only lose our reef but the numerous species that live within it?