Welcome to the Wet Tropics: the importance of weather in reef tourism

Wet tropics

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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