Great Barrier Reef tourism spokesman attacks scientist over slump in visitors

the Guardian | 1/12/2018 | Amy Remeikis
A Queensland tourism representative has called one of the Great Barrier Reef’s leading researchers “a dick”, blaming the professor for a downturn in tourism growth at the state’s greatest natural asset.

Col McKenzie, the head of the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators, a group that represents more than 100 businesses in the Great Barrier Reef, has written to the federal government asking it to stop funding the work of Professor Terry Hughes, claiming his comments were “misleading” and damaging the tourism industry.

Conservation - Foundation - Tourism - Representatives - Operators

But the Australian Conservation Foundation said tourism representatives and operators like McKenzie should stop blaming scientists for reporting what was happening to the reef and start targeting major polluters to ensure change.

Hughes, who serves as the director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and is considered one of the world’s leading experts on the reef, has been warning of the damage rising water temperatures have been inflicting on the reef for years.

Work - Reef - Health - McKenzie - Hughes

While not disagreeing there was work to be done on the reef’s health, McKenzie accused Hughes of exaggerating the damage, which he said has been detrimental to the region’s multibillion-dollar tourism industry.

“I think Terry Hughes is a dick,” he told Guardian Australia. “I believe he has done tens of millions of dollars of damage to our reef in our key markets, being America and Europe. You went to those areas in 2017 and they were convinced the reef was dead. And people won’t do long-haul trips when they think the reef is dead.”

McKenzie - Tourism - Growth - Region - Crisis

McKenzie said in 2016, tourism growth in the region had returned to pre-global financial crisis levels, before “that growth died” in 2017, which he blamed on Hughes “negative comments”.

In April 2016 Hughes made international headlines after releasing his final report on extensive aerial and underwater surveys, which showed that of the surveyed...
(Excerpt) Read more at: the Guardian
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