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Climate change and tourism in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park


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Climate change impacts such as coral bleaching are now evident on many coral reefs visited by tourists. This paper reports on climate change workshops and climate change actions implemented by tourism operators and agencies in Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, with a focus on eco-efficiency initiatives. The results of a climate change action survey of 82 Great Barrier Reef tourism operators are also presented. Climate change responses by coral reef destinations require a mix of environmental and business strategies.
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Current Issues in Tourism
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Climate change and tourism in the
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
Heather Zeppel a
a Australian Centre for Sustainable Business and Development,
University of Southern Queensland, Springfield Campus, Brisbane,
4300, Australia
Available online: 24 Jun 2011
To cite this article: Heather Zeppel (2012): Climate change and tourism in the Great Barrier Reef
Marine Park, Current Issues in Tourism, 15:3, 287-292
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Climate change and tourism in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
Heather Zeppel
Australian Centre for Sustainable Business and Development, University of Southern Queensland,
Springfield Campus, Brisbane 4300, Australia
(Received 7 December 2010; final version received 14 January 2011)
Climate change impacts such as coral bleaching are now evident on many coral reefs
visited by tourists. This paper reports on climate change workshops and climate
change actions implemented by tourism operators and agencies in Australia’s Great
Barrier Reef Marine Park, with a focus on eco-efficiency initiatives. The results of a
climate change action survey of 82 Great Barrier Reef tourism operators are also
presented. Climate change responses by coral reef destinations require a mix of
environmental and business strategies.
Keywords: climate change; Great Barrier Reef; Australia; tourism operators; eco-
efficiency initiatives
Mass coral bleaching affected reefs globally in the late 1990s and across South East Asia in
2010. In Australia, the recent impacts of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR)
such as coral bleaching have been publicised in popular media and widely reviewed in the
scientific literature (Hoegh-Guldberg, 2009). Climate change impacts on the GBR include
severe coral bleaching episodes in 1998 and 2002 due to higher summer sea temperatures,
increased ocean acidity affecting calcium density in corals, altered distribution and abun-
dance of fish species, effects on breeding seabirds and incubation of marine turtle eggs,
more severe storms, rising sea levels, and coastal erosion (GBRMPA, 2009a, 2009b;
Lough, 2007). Climate modelling also forecasts a range of impacts on the GBR, at different
levels of greenhouse gas emissions, for 2020 and 2050 (Hennessy, Webb, Kirono, &
Ricketts, 2008; Lough, 2007). However, coral reefs in shallow waters around Cairns and
around resort islands in the GBR will be most affected by higher temperatures and bleach-
ing (Done et al., 2003). Adverse coverage about climate change impacts such as the extent
and severity of coral bleaching, catchment run off, and cyclones affects the AUD$5 billion
tourism industry in the World Heritage-listed GBR Marine Park (Fenton, Kelly, Vella, &
Innes, 2007). Community perceptions about climate change causes and impacts in the
GBR also vary widely (Fenton & Beeden, 2006). Previous research has examined green-
house gas emissions from marine tours (Byrnes & Warnken, 2006), the marketing of
eco-efficiency initiatives by destinations (Holleran, 2008), the effect of loss of biodiversity
and climate change issues on GBR tourism (Coghlan & Prideaux, 2007), and the role of
ISSN 1368-3500 print/ISSN 1747-7603 online
#2012 Taylor & Francis
Current Issues in Tourism
Vol. 15, No. 3, April 2012, 287–292
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weather in reef tourism resilience (Coghlan & Prideaux, 2010). This paper reports on recent
climate change workshops and climate change actions implemented by tourism operators in
the GBRMP.
Climate change workshops for marine tourism operators in the GBR were held in Airlie
Beach and Cairns in 2009 and 2010. The Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators
(AMPTO) and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) hosted the work-
shops to assist the marine tourism industry to take action on climate change (QTIC,
2008). The workshops provided information about climate change impacts on the GBR,
Climate Action Certification and measuring tourism operator’s emissions with an online
calculator, for buildings, vessels, vehicles, and air travel. Some 20 marine tourism operators
and eco-consultants attended the ‘Acclimatise your business’ workshop in Cairns, North
Queensland, on 22 July 2010. Case studies of eco-efficiency in boat operations and redu-
cing emissions were provided by Big Cat Green Island Cruises (a Climate Action
Leader) and by two reef sailing boats, Coral Sea Dreaming and Santa Maria. The
GBRMPA presented climate change responses such as the GBR Tourism Climate
Change Action Strategy 2009 2012 (GBRMPA, 2009a), ‘Reef Facts for Tour Guides:
Climate Change and the GBR’ and the online emissions calculator for tourism operators
(Table 1). These focus on promoting adaptation by reef operators and reducing their
carbon footprint. A set of fact sheets about marine tourism operators responding to
climate change with industry case studies (GBRMPA, 2010a) covered: becoming carbon
neutral (Big Cat Green Island Cruises); green purchasing (Whitsunday Charter Boat Indus-
try Association); reducing outboard emissions (Ocean Rafting); and certification recognis-
ing best practice (Southern Cross Sailing Adventures). Ecotourism Australia also profiled
their Climate Action Certification Program for tourism operators by reducing carbon emis-
sions and other climate change business practices. In 2010, there were 12 climate action
certified reef operators, including the Reef HQ Aquarium.
Climate change issues for GBR tourism
The president of AMPTO outlined key environmental and business issues for climate
change actions by GBR tourism operators such as mitigation strategies and carbon offset-
ting. Insurance costs are increasing due to climate change with more damage from cyclones
and storms (QTIC, 2008). In the future, GBR operators may not be able to insure pontoons
moored on the outer reef from cyclone damage. Stronger winds (average 8 knots) also mean
rougher sea conditions and more days in port for vessels. GBR tourism operators also
needed to improve the eco-efficiency of their businesses. The president noted his former
Table 1. Climate change initiatives for Great Barrier Reef tourism (GBRMPA).
Great Barrier Reef Climate Change Action Plan 20072012
Climate change on the Great Barrier Reef webpage
Climate Action Certification for tourism operators
GBR Tourism Climate Change Action Strategy 2009– 2012
Tourism Operator’s Emissions Calculator (
Reef Facts for Tour Guides: Climate change and the Great Barrier Reef
Onboard: The tourism operator’s handbook for the GBR ‘Take action on climate change’
Responsible Reef Practices ‘Climate change action’
Bleach Watch & Eye on the Reef monitoring programs
Tourism Operators Responding to Climate Change fact sheets
Source: Great Barrier Marine Park Authority (
288 H. Zeppel
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business SSI Australia, a diver certification company such as PADI, was carbon neutral by
offsetting emissions from cars, buying green power, and using digital files. Sailaway in Port
Douglas was implementing their own offset program by replanting cleared rainforest areas.
They also picked up biodiesel fuel from Cairns in 10-litre cans. The Cod Hole and Ribbon
Reef Operators Association received $10,000 for climate actions from the Queensland gov-
ernment by forming a climate smart business cluster of 20 businesses. Other initiatives such
as the hybrid solar diesel power station installed at Lady Elliott Island Eco Resort (2010) in
the southern GBR reduced carbon emissions by 70% and attracted engineers as new visi-
tors, despite the tourism downturn during the global financial crisis (From the Deck, 2010a,
2010c). The resort offered a climate change tour. The GBRMPA and Ecotourism Australia
also marketed eco-certified GBR operators at the Australian Tourism Exchange, with green
travel packages sold to international travel wholesalers such as TUI in Europe. In the UK, a
£100 tax on long haul flights for emissions will increase to £170, increasing costs for British
visitors to the GBR. However, there is limited awareness by reef visitors about the climate
actions of tour operators or the GBRMPA (Smith, 2010). A survey of 339 visitors at the
Cairns airport found impacts of future coral bleaching on reef visitation ranged from not
sure (40.8%), would revisit (40.7%, half repeat visitors), and would not revisit (12.5%,
mainly first-time visitors), with a low level of climate change concern (Prideaux,
Coghlan, & McKercher, 2009).
Climate change actions by GBR tourism operators
Big Cat Green Island Cruises (2010) in Cairns claims to be the only large GBR operator
carrying over 100,000 passengers annually with a zero carbon footprint. The company is
Eco-certified and Climate Action certified as a leader, winning the 2009 Climate Action
award from Ecotourism Australia. Climate change initiatives were undertaken by this
reef operator to (1) enhance passenger capacity and comfort, (2) reduce fuel costs, (3)
reduce emissions, and (4) improve climate action credentials. Fuel comprised 87% of all
emissions, down from 95%, based on improvements to boat design, propellers, engines,
and running speeds. A catamaran was cut in half and extended by 5 metres, reducing
drag and adding 100 seats. New propellers, using four-stroke outboards and using a
lower running speed saved 30% in fuel. Other options were biodiesel but Cairns biodiesel
is sold 100% to Boral Asphalt. Electric engines for boats weigh 8 tonnes and need to be 2
4 tonnes for catamarans. A carbon audit by a consultant cost the operator AUD$3500, with
offsetting of direct emissions by Greenfleet Australia, through tree planting in the GBR
catchment. With this future forest sink offsetting as the trees grow, the operator cannot
claim to be carbon neutral or use this term in marketing. Instead, Big Cat Cruises
devised their own copyrighted logo of a ‘zero carbon footprint’ with a leaf and foot
design used on all marketing materials. A Chinese government and business group recently
visited this GBR tourism operator, to examine their climate action initiatives.
Improvements to energy use were presented for two GBR sailing boats, Coral Sea
Dreaming and Santa Maria. The operator captured energy from the main engine, installed
a house alternator and a 3.7 KVA inverter. Alternate power was delivered from the engine
drive at 12 V with standard 6 V batteries installed from golf carts weighing 30 kg each. The
batteries were charged on the 4 hour trip to the outer GBR with 90 hours of battery power.
The total cost of AUD$6000 was similar to buying a generator set but the use of an alter-
nator and inverter meant no noise and a better experience for reef visitors. Other energy
improvements were the use of eutectic plates, insulation, and led lights on the two GBR
Current Issues in Tourism 289
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sailing boats. Torres Strait marine pilots adopted this system of using energy from the main
engine for charging batteries with running and rest periods.
Quicksilver Connections is researching the use of shade cloths and solar-powered
sprinkler devices to see whether shading corals can prevent or delay the onset of coral bleach-
ing in shallow water coral communities. Initial results suggest that the shaded corals are
healthier and have higher densities of symbiotic algae living in the coral that provide
colour and nutrients (Laycock, 2007). Further adaptation strategies used on other coral
reefs are coral transplantation, artificial reefs, and assisted incubation of turtle eggs by
removal or shading. Quicksilver have two solar-powered semi-submersibles and use biodie-
sel on their transfer buses. Four new diesel engines on their main catamaran, Quicksilver VIII,
reduced carbon emissions by 20% (From the Deck, 2008). The Undersea Explorer vessel
used 50% biodiesel in their engines reducing carbon emissions by 40% (From the Deck,
2007). The Whitsunday Charter Boat Industry Association has a climate change and sustain-
ability committee to reduce the carbon footprint of operators (From the Deck, 2010c).
The Deep Sea Divers Den in Cairns has installed 156 rooftop solar panels and is looking
to power their Ocean Quest dive vessel with solar power (Sexton, 2010).
GBR tourism industry climate change survey
The GBRMPA funded a survey about GBR tourism industry action and utilisation of agency
resources in response to climate change. The telephone survey was conducted during April –
May 2010 with 82 reef tourism operators in the GBRMP. Climate change was seen as the
main environmental threat to the GBR (41%), along with catchment run off (34%), and
reduced water quality (26%). Other specific threats were tourism damage (17%), coral
bleaching (12%), coastal development (11%), and crown of thorns starfish (10%). Taking
action to reduce climate change impacts on the GBR was regarded as extremely important
(56%) or somewhat important (22%). Responsibility for climate change action on the GBR
was attributed to the government (43%) and tourism operators (32%). Reef tourism oper-
ators had a high level of awareness (87%) of GBRMPA climate change initiatives,
reports, monitoring, and information on websites. Specific initiatives adopted by GBR
tourism operators were Bleach Watch monitoring (41%), high standard tourism certification
(40%), climate change workshops (38%), and GBRMPA web pages on taking climate
change action (38%). Climate change actions undertaken by GBR tourism operators were
recycling (88%), risk management (88%), responsible disposable of waste water and
waste (85%), and reducing energy use (83%). Some 50% of surveyed reef operators had
measured their carbon footprint (From the Deck, 2010b). Future climate change actions
of GBR tourism operators were Eco Certification (37%), Bleach Watch monitoring
(34%), Climate Action Certification (27%), green purchasing (23%), offsetting emissions
(21%), marketing climate actions (20%), switching to alternative fuels (17%), measuring
carbon footprint (16%), and building climate change adaptation into their business plan
(16%). Barriers to reef tourism operators implementing more climate change actions were
cost (50%), lack of time (28%), and not enough information (24%), though areas of need
were not stated (GBRMPA, 2010b). These survey responses were not presented according
to operator size or location in the GBRMP.
Climate change responses in the GBRMP mainly focus on eco-efficiency initiatives by
290 H. Zeppel
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The GBR climate change workshops in 2009/2010 covered internal factors such as
tourism business contributions to climate change (i.e. energy, fuel) and mitigation strategies
(i.e. reducing energy and emissions), along with customer education and marketing oppor-
tunities (i.e. guiding, certification, and promotion of climate change efforts). External
factors such as business vulnerabilities to climate change (i.e. coral bleaching, strong
winds, cyclones, rising energy and fuel costs, insurance) and adaptation strategies were
also now part of addressing climate change and operating marine tourism businesses in
the GBR Marine Park and World Heritage Area. Other coral reef destinations will need
similar strategies to respond to climate change impacts.
It would be useful to compare climate change responses by agencies in other coral reef
parks, the use of greening initiatives as a marketing tool by reef tourism operators and
whether this response to climate change influences tourist behaviour in choosing a reef des-
tination or tour operator.
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Conference Paper
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Since 2015, online food delivery has witnessed a 150% growth in the restaurant business as per a report by the Red Seer Consulting accounting for 30-35% of the total restaurant business in India. The restaurant business in Kharghar, Navi Mumbai has also joined this bandwagon of online food delivery by partnering with main players like Food panda, Zomato and Swiggy. Although online food-delivery platforms are expanding choice and convenience, allowing customers to order from a wide array of restaurants with a single tap of their mobile phone/tab, there is also a need to see how this has affected the restaurant owner/management. The purpose of this research is to study the benefits and challenges faced by the restaurant owners in Kharghar as a result of partnering with the food delivery platforms, namely, Foodpanda, Zomato, Swiggy, and a comparative study of these platforms. Our methodology is based on questionnaire based survey conducted on 50 restaurants in Kharghar node using the food delivery platforms mentioned above. The results showed that while there are many benefits for the restaurant owners like high volumes of orders and marketing of their restaurants to a wider market, etc., there are equal challenges like cut in to profits and high registration rates, commissions to keep up with the competitors, etc. These findings may help the new restaurant owners to decide what is in store for them as they partner with these online food delivery platforms. Introduction 70 percent of the global population is projected to own a smartphone by 2020-that's less than four years from now for those of you counting-there's a lot of pressure on industries to keep up with the demand for digitization. The hospitality industry is no exception. In order to stay competitive in the travel and hospitality marketplace today, customer service is the key. Achieving excellence in providing a superior experience is a game-changing differentiator for leading businesses. With the world going mobile, the best way to service customer needs is to connect with them directly on their smartphone-which they never leave home without. In fact, more than 85 percent of people carry their smartphone with them when they travel. Additionally, 77 percent of the millennial generation reacts more positively to businesses that offer texting communication options. The Food and Restaurant industry is seeing significant digital transformation-Digital menus, kiosks, tablets on tables, digital tabletops and digital kitchens. Crucial success has been achieved in customization, food delivery, and payment options. Today, in India, Zomato, Swiggy, and FoodPanda are a few names that have made services like online table reservations, social media reviews, and mobile payment options. Indeed, every business owner in the restaurant sector strives to have a highly organized mobile application and impressive online presence so that they attract large numbers of people in a short time span.
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This paper estimates the overall and per capita energy costs and GHG contributions associated with tour boat operations in Australia, a country with a 35,000 km coastline and world class marine attractions. Using a comprehensive database of Australian tour boat operators, 145 face-to-face interviews or completed postal survey questionnaires and 45 in- situ audits, the overall GHG emissions for this industry sector was estimated conservatively at 70,000 tons CO2-e or 0.1% of the transport sector in Australia, the fastest growing sector in terms of GHG outputs. On average, this translated into an extra 61 kg CO2-e per tourist if their travel itineraries included a trip on a boat with a diesel engine, or 27 kg CO2-e for a trip on a boat with a petrol engine – the equivalent of a single person driving 140 km or 300 km, respectively, in a standard passenger vehicle. Information obtained from Australian tour boat operators, however, indicated a range of technical and operational opportunities for reducing GHG emissions. In the light of Australia’s anticipated growth in domestic and international visitors, the importance of reducing tour boat GHG outputs, is stressed.
The debate regarding the relationships between tourism economic benefits and associated environmental costs, including transport related impacts, are issues of concern to destination based tourism marketers and tourism and hospitality educators. The global climate change discussion and the media focus in the E.U. on the links between aviation and associated emissions and fossil fuel consumption have captured the attention of global tourism associations. The definition of tourism sustainability is being redefined though the application of life cycle management (LCM) principals. Destinations, in spending millions to encourage people to travel, may some day be scrutinized for their eco-efficiency and will need to consider the use of ‘LCM thinking’ and related green communication objectives as suggested in this paper.
As one of Australia's iconic tourism attractions and one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is an important economic, social and natural resource for Queensland's Tropical North. However, the long-term prognosis for the health of the reef and by implication, the industries dependent on it, is not positive. So far much attention has focussed on the health and resilience of the reef ecosystem, as a foundation for a resilient tourism industry. In this study we explore how weather conditions have affected the reef experiences of 1000 tourists to the Cairns/Port Douglas region, suggesting that this may also be an important indicator of change on the reef. The results suggest that poor weather has a more pronounced effect on experiences than good weather and reinforce the likelihood that seasickness, cold and wet conditions, reduced water visibility, and difficult snorkelling/diving conditions will reduce overall levels of satisfaction. Poor weather was found to have a direct effect on satisfaction scores, the likelihood that reef and tour expectations were not realised, and lowered perceived value for money. These are important considerations for the reef centred tourism industry that is currently facing strong environment pressures from climate change.
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