With last week's budget, the federal government is attempting to give a boost to tourism in at the Great Barrier Reef. It gets cheaper to visit the World Heritage Listed Marine Park. A good thing, right? Tourists will save a whopping $2.50 for a day visit, or $1.25 for half a day. Yes, you read that right: a saving of maximum $2.50 should make people change their minds about travelling to Far North Queensland for what was always going to be an expensive holiday anyway.
This change in the Standard Tourist Program Charge to visit the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park with a commercial operator, brings the charge back to $3.50 per day or $1.75 per part of a day. So, after having spent a few hundred dollars (or thousand if you came from overseas), and paying at least $80 for a basic hotel room per night, let's say $150 for a trip out to the reef on a boat and $4 for every cup of coffee you order on board, you can breathe a sigh of relief when you find out that accessing one of the greatest natural wonders on earth\ has become so cheap that you can easily do it every day! As if people on a budget would be visiting the Great Barrier Reef...
But be aware you budget-aware tourists who plan ahead: this is only a temporary measure, which started last month and expire in March 2015. You better there quick!
We need more than that With Australia having some of the most expensive cities in the world and our currency being very strong at the moment, dive operators and dive stores have it tough. In a once booming Cairns, where you could find a dive centre on every street corner, many dive shops have closed their doors. So while I applaud the attempt to do something for our tourism and diving industry, I think this is a rather cheap shot of the government. This well-intended budget plan will cost the government $10.4 million over the next four years, but do little to attract more tourism and activity in Far North Queensland. I think we need more than that.
How about spending that amount on a little promotion of Australia's greatest asset and attract more tourists that way? Or using it to invest in its expansion, instead of proposing to shrink the size of it to benefit Coals Seam Gas mining and Fisheries? A pristine and protected reef will surely do more to please tourist than a little discount...
You can find more information about mining plans that severely affect the Great Barrier Reef on the Greenpeace website
____ HAVE YOUR SAY
Do you agree that the government made a petty gesture to save Tourism at the Great Barrier Reef?
Or do you think that any measure is better than no measure and it will help the industry?
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