Commercial and non-commercial use
Rapid Monitoring survey program. Despite the financial pressures experienced through the downturn in tourism, tourism operators continued to actively gather reef health data through the different components of the Eye on the Reef program. Importantly, the tourism industry continues to make much of the vast area of the Great Barrier Reef accessible to visitors. Without it, many visitors simply would not be able to enjoy or experience the Region’s values. The industry, therefore, plays a key role in fulfilling Australia’s world heritage obligation to ‘present’ the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Most tourism programs include education and interpretation activities, aimed at increasing appreciation and understanding of the natural environment and sustainable practices that support the Reef.
5.2.3 Impacts of commercial marine tourism
The Outlook Report 2009 highlighted that impacts caused by tourism are generally localised and have been largely reduced by regulation (for example, whale approach distances); site management arrangements (such as group size limits at locations, use of moorings, seasonal seabird closure areas); permit arrangements (for example, conditions to avoid and mitigate the impacts of structures and intensive activities, including fish feeding guidelines); education; and the adoption of best practices for activities (such as diving and snorkelling). While this assessment remains current for most aspects of commercial tourism use, there are some emerging areas and some not previously identified.
Figure 5.8 Location of eye on the reef weekly monitoring by tourism operators, 2011–2013
Monitoring of Reef condition by tourism operators through the Eye on the Reef program is focused in areas offshore Cairns and Port Douglas (22 operators), and in the Whitsundays (15 operators).