Queensland’s top tourist destinations are under threat from climate change, according to the latest report from the Climate Council.
The “Icons at Risk: Climate Change Threatening Australian Tourism” report released on Thursday claims the state’s iconic beaches, wilderness areas and in particular the Great Barrier Reef are under imminent threat due to changes in the Earth’s climate.
Ecologist Professor Lesley Hughes said in addition to the environmental concerns surrounding climate change, it was also threatening the state’s billion-dollar industry.
“In 2016 alone, more than 2.5 million international visitors arrived in the state, bringing in more than $5.2 billion dollars,” Prof Hughes said.
“The back-to-back mass coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef should serve as a serious warning to the federal and Queensland governments that tackling climate change through cutting pollution is essential to protect this billion-dollar asset.”
The reef is still reeling from coral bleaching events in 2016 and 2017, while UNESCO recently expressed serious concern about bleaching.
It warned climate change remained the most significant threat and urged Australia to work faster to improve water quality.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last month announced a $60 million plan to protect the Great Barrier Reef against coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish and farm run-off.
Separately, the Queensland government has earmarked $256 million over the next five years to improve reef water quality.
The Climate Council report also said climate change was increasing health risks for visitors to Queensland, pointing to recent sightings of deadly irukandji jellyfish as far south as Fraser Island.