Recreational Users

Sailing Whitsundays on sunset

The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBRWHA) provides important and valued opportunities for recreation. With most coastal residents using the beaches and beyond for recreation, the area provides essential social and cultural benefits to the adjacent region. Catchment-wide, recreational activities in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) beyond beach visits contribute $126m directly to the Australian economy (Deloitte Access Economics, 2013). An understanding of how residents interact with the GBR, how they value and perceive it, and their willingness to be stewards provides essential insights into this large group, helping to ensure the needs of recreational users are considered in future management, and that recreational activities are managed sustainably.

The Social and Economic Long Term Monitoring Program (SELTMP) has collated information from multiple secondary sources which provide information on such things as boat ownership, and fishing participation. There are also multiple sources of information from research or community groups, however often this information does not cover the whole GBR region, all types of recreational users, and is not ongoing.

The SELTMP has attempted to fill this information gap through targeted face-to-face surveys of 3181 residents spread along the GBR coast. The surveys provided information on who is accessing the GBR (from the beach to the eastern edge of the GBR Marine Park) for recreation, what they doing, how they aaccessing it, and why. By developing an understanding of the importance of the GBR for recreation, the way residents value the Reef, their opinions on the environment and it's management, what threats they are concerned about, and their willingness to be stewards for the GBR, we hope to improve the way people are included in ongoing management of the region.

Fast facts from the 2013 surveys:

  • 95% of GBR coastal town residents had visited the GBR for recreation at some time, and 87% of residents had visited in the previous 12 months. Most people went to the beach on their most recent trip, but many had also been beyond the beach in the previous year.

  • Residents overwhelmingly agreed the aesthetic beauty of the GBR is outstanding and that they were proud that it is a World Heritage Area.

  • The GBR contributed to the income (at least a little bit) of 25% of coastal residents.

More 'fast facts' can be found in the 2013 fact sheet for Recreation.

For more detailed information, see the "Recreation in the Great Barrier Reef" technical report series (See the SELTMP 2014 for Recreation for the most recent report, which provides updated information since the SELTMP 2013 for Recreation report). Recreation is also included as a chapter within the SELTMP 2012, and the SELTMP 2011 reports). These are part of a series of technical reports from the SELTMP (NERP Project 10.1) for the GBR region.