Coral bleaching in Great Barrier Reef to derail tourism, finds survey

The massive drop in visitors due to coral bleaching can lead to a loss of 1 billion Australian dollars in income, and 10,000 tourism jobs, the report said.

DPA Features June 21, 2016 15:29:24 IST
Coral bleaching in Great Barrier Reef to derail tourism, finds survey

Sydney: Coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef could result in one million fewer visitors and hundreds of millions of dollars in lost tourism revenue each year, according to a report by a Canberra-based think tank.

"The massive drop in visitors would result in the loss of one billion Australian dollars (759 million US dollars) in income, and 10,000 tourism jobs," the Australia Institute said in a report Monday.

While many potential visitors may seek other Australian attractions, some "175,000 potential visitors may not come to Australia at all," the report said.

Coral bleaching in Great Barrier Reef to derail tourism finds survey

Aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef on the coast of Australia. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority/dpa

More than 4,400 people were surveyed for the report in the United States, Britain, China and Australia, said Tom Burmester, a spokesman for the Institute.

"China, UK and US are the top three countries, making up two in five tourists visiting Australia," he said Tuesday.

A mass bleaching, blamed on global warming and acidification of the ocean, has killed 35 percent of the corals on the northern and central Great Barrier Reef, according to scientists.

The impact is still unfolding and it will take decades to regain the largest and oldest corals that have died, researchers from the Australian ARC Center of Excellence said last month.

Earlier, Guardian Australia reported that Australia pushed to have a whole chapter on the Great Barrier Reef removed from a UN report on climate change, fearing it would impact tourism.

"The Great Barrier Reef is a major tourist attraction. If it's lost to coral bleaching, then there is a big risk of losing the tourists, along with income and jobs," Burmester told dpa.

Coral bleaching is caused by a die-off of the living organisms, or algae, inside the coral. It can be triggered by small changes in environmental conditions, like a rise in sea temperature.

It is the loss of these colourful algae that causes the corals to turn white and "bleach."

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