Great Barrier Reef under spotlight at international conference in Townsville

‘Protecting the Reef as a global ecotourism icon’ is among the topics covered by Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority presenters at an international tourism conference in Townsville this week.

The Global Eco Asia-Pacific Tourism Conference (26-28 November) will be attended by key tourism industry players, including operators, protected area managers and researchers from across the world.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is a host partner of the three day event.

Marine Park Authority Chief Scientist Dr David Wachenfeld, Tourism and Education Assistant Director Fiona Merida and Sascha Thyer from Reef HQ are among the line-up of renowned speakers at the event.

Dr David Wachenfeld will speak on the protection of the Great Barrier Reef as a global ecotourism icon.

“It’s great to be able to engage with some of the world’s leading tourism industry representatives and talk about the health and management of the Reef,” he said.

“We need to focus on the condition of the Reef and what action is needed to mitigate climate change, while protecting its resilience.”

Fiona Merida’s presentation is about the making of the Master Reef Guide program, which is being developed by the Marine Park Authority with the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators and Tourism and Events Queensland.

Reef HQ’s Assistant Director Technical Operations Sascha Thyer will speak on optimising commercial building energy use with case study of the work done at the Marine Park Authority’s Reef HQ Aquarium.

Ms Thyer said the energy saving initiatives adopted by Reef HQ led to a 50 per cent reduction in electricity consumption on the grid.

“As a tourist attraction, Reef HQ requires the management of significant energy using assets, so being environmental sustainable is not just good for business, it also helps to protect our environment for future generations,” Ms Thyer said

“The aim of the presentation is to inspire some ideas for business and at home, to save money, waste less, be safer, and help to minimise the impacts of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef.”

Ms Thyer will present some initiatives that are detailed in a paper that was published in the journal Energy Efficiency this year and is free to download.