TOURISM: Lady Musgrave Experience operator Brett Lakey.
TOURISM: Lady Musgrave Experience operator Brett Lakey. Craig Warhurst

Tourism operator hits back at claims the reef is dead

RECENT claims have suggested ongoing probes by Greens activists into the state of coral health has considerably affected tourism numbers along the eastern coast.

This week The Australian reported the north Queensland tourism industry was at the point of "near recession" because of environmental activism.

Lady Musgrave Experience founder Brett Lakey said while this time of year was traditionally slower for business, tourists had mentioned what messages they were being relayed overseas about the reef.

"We do see a seasonal lull after Easter and coming into winter," Mr Lakey said.

"But in Cairns, their whole reef is being affected by this negative portrayal. We hear it from guests. The messages they're getting overseas is that the reef is dead. It really is poor delivery from the media.

"There definitely is that negative perception, the picture (tourists) are being portrayed is that the reef is dead."

The tourism operator said the damaging flow-on effect was bad for everyone.

"Everything revolves around tourism programs that deliver world-class experiences," Mr Lakey said.

"There has been a lot of action from Tourism Australia to try and correct that negative message, and while yes, there has been coral bleaching all around the world, fortunately we haven't seen anything in our region."

Mr Lakey said while Cairns was suffering due to inaccurate broadcasting, local tourism operators had been working hard to show off what the southern Great Barrier Reef had to offer.

"We've started to get the word out about what we've got here - Cairns is no longer the only place to go to see the reef," he said.

"We're trying to establish ourselves on the southern end of the reef, a place where you can see the reef and also have a world-class whale watching experience."

Mr Lakey said his multifaceted tour operation was still taking the same number of tours out on the water, with attendance numbers set to increase with the upcoming whale season.

Whales have been spotted down south, and Lady Musgrave Experience will begin their whale watching tours next weekend.



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