MARINE tourism has become the leading contributor to Australia’s “blue economy”, with projections it will grow to be worth $100 billion within 30 years.
Dive instructor Shikeera Wagner knows how important the industry is.
She loves her job in the underwater world of the “blue economy” on the Great Barrier Reef.
The 25-year-old works on luxury vessel Evolution, run by Down Under Cruise and Dive out of Cairns.
“It’s so incredibly rewarding to take people out to the reef and show how it is another world out there,” she said.
“It helps people to understand why we have to protect it.”
For the first time, marine tourism has eclipsed the offshore oil and gas industry as the leading contributor to Australia’s “blue economy”, now estimated to be worth almost $70 billion, a new report shows.
Larger than our agricultural sector, the marine industry is one of the fastest growing parts of the national economy, doubling in size over a decade – and is projected to grow to about $100 million by 2050.
The Australian Institute of Marine Science index into marine industry report, released in Townsville yesterday, has been hailed as a watershed moment for the future of “blue tourism”.
“For the first time ever, tourism has overtaken the amount of money that comes into the marine industries, than through oil and gas,” Federal Industry and Science Minister Karen Andrews said.
Dive instructor Shikeera Wagner, 25, of Cairns loves her job taking tourists into the underwater world of the “blue economy” on the Great Barrier Reef.
“So that’s very positive news, particularly for us here in North Queensland, where we do rely, to a certain extent, on tourism and particularly tourism with the Great Barrier Reef.”
AIMS chief Paul Hardisty said the report showed the sustainable use of our oceans was vital to Australia’s future prosperity, supporting 393,000 jobs.
He said more than 85 per cent of Australia’s population is concentrated in the coastal zone, living within 50km of the ocean.
“The sea is part of our national identity, and of deep cultural significance to our indigenous peoples,” he said.
“It is home to a wondrous and amazing diversity of life, including our iconic coral reefs. But our marine estate is also a significant and growing source of wealth for all Australians.”
Tourism activity associated with the Great Barrier Reef generated $5.7 billion in value-add to the Australian economy.
Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief Daniel Gschwind said the power of the “blue economy” could not be underestimated.
“There is a lot of blue in Queensland and it has always been a major aspect of our state’s wealth all along the coast,” he said
“Tourism is the ultimate sustainable industry in the blue space.
“We can look at it, dive it, fish it, enjoy it, hopefully without damaging it, and along the way contribute to its longevity.”
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