The Australian Government has been caught out intervening in a UNESCO report, which highlighted the parlous state of some of the country’s most well-known attractions – all for the good of tourism.
The “World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate” report, which UNESCO jointly published with the United Nations environment program and the Union of Concerned Scientists, originally had a key chapter on the Great Barrier Reef, along with sections on Kakadu and the Tasmanian forests.
However, according to the Guardian Australia, which obtained a draft copy of the report, each reference to Australia was omitted from the final version after the Australian government said the information could harm tourism. No other sections about any other country were removed from the review, the Guardian reported, leaving Australia as the only inhabited continent without mention.
In explaining its view, an environment department spokesperson told the paper that “recent experience in Australia had shown that negative commentary about the status of world heritage properties impacted on tourism”.
The Great Barrier Reef is in the midst of the worst crisis in recorded history, thanks largely to climate change and other weather anomalies, with unusually warm water causing 93% of the reefs along the 2,300km site to experience bleaching.
With Opposition Leader Bill Shorten promising to create a $500 million fund to help protect the Great Barrier Reef, Virgin Australia and Greening Australia have announced a joint initiative to reduce soil erosion and help restore water quality in the GBR.
As part of its three-year commitment to raising funds and awareness for the reef, Virgin Australia will offer:
- Flights to help scientists, field experts and volunteers working on Reef Aid;
- International media hosting and education;
- Ongoing coverage on Virgin Australia’s social media channels, in the Virgin Australia in-flight magazine and app Voyeur, on Virgin Australia’s In-Flight Entertainment System and to the six million members of Velocity Frequent Flyer;
- ‘Hands on’ support from Virgin Australia staff as part of the Coastal Wetland team volunteering group.
“I have long been passionate about the health of the ocean, having spent many hours in and amongst its waves, particularly in Australia,” Sir Richard Branson said.
“Like me, Virgin Australia is passionate about doing what we can to help save one of the most complex and beautiful natural systems on earth, the Great Barrier Reef.”