Thursday, April 13, 2017

Damage to Great Barrier Reef Could Cost Australia Billions in Lost Tourism

Ongoing coral bleaching on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef could cost the region more than a million international and domestic tourists a year -- and up to 1 billion Australian dollars ($760 million) in lost revenue.

A newly released report by Australia's independent Climate Council warns that further damage to one of the country's top tourist attractions — the 2,300-kilometer-long (1,400-mile) Great Barrier Reef — could result in more than a million people a year choosing alternative holiday destinations.

The council's ecologist Lesley Hughes said in a statement that severe bleaching shouldn't be viewed as a strictly environmental issue, for it also has a negative impact on the economy.

"[The reef] responsible for bringing in more than AU $7 billion each year to our economy, while also supporting the livelihoods of around 70,000 people," Hughes said.

About two-thirds of the site's coral, mostly in its northern sections, has already been extremely damaged due to warming sea temperatures and the exacerbating effects of the El Nino weather cycle in 2016.

Scientists said this week that the bleached coral had no chance of prompt recovery. Even if parts of the reef hurt by bleaching bounce back, it could take up to ten years for even the fastest-growing corals to recover.

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