New committee members to advise on Reef tourism

Published: 21/10/2014

Helping to ensure tourism use remains ecologically sustainable will be one of the key roles of new members appointed to a Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) advisory committee.

The new Tourism Reef Advisory Committee has held its first meeting in Townsville, enabling representatives to raise issues relevant to the tourism sector, which is one of the biggest users of the Reef.

GBRMPA Chairman Russell Reichelt said the 15 members, appointed for a three-year term, reflect the diversity of the sector.

“From day-tours to resorts, bareboat operations and charter fishing, it’s a highly diverse and important industry that knows first-hand the value of doing all we can to boost the health and resilience of the Reef,” said Dr Reichelt.

“It plays a critical role in showing visitors on a daily basis why we should protect one of the most precious and ecologically significant places on Earth. It’s also a sector that remains strong, with 2.1 million people visiting the Marine Park in 2013–14.

“I’m confident the new committee members will help us continue our decades-long partnership with the tourism industry, and we’ll certainly be keen to hear their views and ideas on operational policies and best practice.

“The advisory body also represents a good opportunity for the sector to provide input into research and monitoring priorities, strategic plans, plans of management, zoning plans and contingency plans for severe weather events.”

Independent chair of the committee and chief executive officer of Regional Development Australia Townsville and North-West Queensland, Glenys Schuntner, said members were looking forward to getting down to work.

“The Great Barrier Reef is universally recognised as the world’s best managed reef system, and one that provides outstanding experiences for people all around the world,” said Ms Schuntner.

“In many ways, tourism operators are at the frontline, so they’re well placed to advise GBRMPA on how we can work together to achieve an ecologically sustainable future for the Reef.

“The various management arrangements in place for the tourism industry, such as policies and plans of management for different regions, are subjects where committee members can share their considerable expertise and experience.

“Importantly, this will also be a chance for members to hear about the current and future work of GBRMPA to protect the Reef, and to raise broader issues relating to the health of the Marine Park.”

Committee member Peter Gash from Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort said the forum was a positive means of forming partnerships.

“I like to think that our job in the tourism industry is to help people fall in love with the Reef,” said Mr Gash.

“Through this committee, we’ll be able to work closely with each other to share ideas on what works well and what needs improvement, not just on operational matters but also in communicating the true and ever-changing story of the Reef itself to visitors from all around the world.”

The next meeting of the Tourism Reef Advisory Committee will be held in March 2015.

The committee is made up of:

  • Glenys Schuntner — Independent chair
  • Tony Baker — Quicksilver
  • Tony Brown — True Blue Sailing
  • Tony Charters — Ecotourism Australia
  • Mike Drake — Carnival Australia
  • Peter Gash — Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort
  • Chrissy Grant — Eastern Kuku Yalanji Traditional Owner
  • Daniel Gschwind — Queensland Tourism Industry Council
  • Gavin Herholdt — Hamilton Island Resort
  • Annie Judd — Charter Yachts Australia
  • Geoff Kent — Qld Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing
  • Daniel McCarthy — Big Fish Down Under
  • Col McKenzie — Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators
  • David Morgans — Tourism and Events Queensland
  • Bianca Priest — Federal Department of the Environment

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