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Diver with Gian Clam


Eco Tourism

Today, Approximately two million people visit the Great Barrier Reef each year. Although most of these visits are managed in partnership with the marine tourism industry, there is a concern amongst the general public that tourism is harmful to the Great Barrier Reef. By far, the most popular tourist activities on the Great Barrier Reef are snorkelling and diving, for which pontoons are often used, and the area is often enclosed by nets. The outer part of the Great Barrier Reef is favoured for such activities, due to water quality.

The problems that surround ecotourism in the Great Barrier Reef revolve around permanent tourism platforms. Platforms are large, ship-like vessels that act as a base for tourists while scuba diving and snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef. Tourism is a major economic activity for the region. Thus, while non-permanent platforms could be possible in some areas, overall, permanent platforms are likely a necessity. Solutions have been suggested to siphon bird waste into gutters connecting to tanks helping lower runoff that causes coral disease. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has also placed many permanent anchorage points around the general use areas. These act to reduce damage to the reef due to anchoring destroying soft coral, chipping hard coral, and disturbing sediment as it is dragged across the bottom. 

Tourism operators also must comply with speed limits when traveling to or from tourist destinations, in order to prevent excessive wake from the boats disturbing the reef ecosystem.