Tourism and Events Queensland’s chief executive has described the Great Barrier Reef as “still an amazing place to visit”, despite concerns around the second consecutive year of bleaching.
Leanne Coddington called some of the headlines around the issue “sensational”, and urged tourists to continue visiting: “We’re not dismissing [the news, or] trying to deny the reef has been impacted in the last couple of years. The coral bleaching has affected us, [but] it’s still a beautiful place and the people that visit are actually protecting [the reef because of the levy].”
An aerial survey of the reef by the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies showed two thirds of it have now been bleached, due to an increase in water temperature. Furthermore, Cyclone Debbie – which began in late March and dissipated in early April – wreaked havoc on the tourism asset.
The cyclone also led to the prolonged closure of several of the Whitsundays’ most iconic hotels. Five-star resort Qualia is slated to reopen on June 1, while One&Only Hayman Island will remain closed until mid-2018, as will Daydream Island Resort & Spa.