Great Barrier Reef
Great Barrier Reef

See Queensland’s natural monuments through new lens

A new study aims to research the possibility of linking the tourism industry and the field of environmental science in Queensland.

James Cook University PhD researcher Karmen Luzar is gathering evidence to help move towards a systemic collaboration between the two industries.
“Tourism industry in Queensland is largely dependent on pristine environments and nature based tourism,” Ms Luzar said.

The tourism and environmental science sectors are both important for Queensland, with nature-based tourism being a key industry in the state.

Natural environments are constantly changing but this is not often taken into consideration by tourism offerings.

“Our idea is to use the latest environmental science findings about the state of natural assets, as well as research on human impacts on the environment and biological and biodiversity-related information, to add knowledge-intensive value to Queensland tourism sites,” she said.

One example is the Great Barrier Reef, which has suffered from coral bleaching events in the summers of 1998 and 2002, according to the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

“The tourism industry was left with a devastating image,” Ms Luzar said, with people perceiving there was not much to see at the reef anymore.

She said the latest environmental science findings about the state of natural assets, human environmental impacts, and biodiversity-related information could add knowledge-intensive value to Queensland tourism sites.

It would let tourists have an opportunity to learn about a natural site at a certain point of time instead of just seeing it as timeless and unchanging.

“We have many other natural monuments and sites across Queensland including lakes, forests, dunes, semi-arid areas, rivers, etc. that are equally important and relevant for this research,” Ms Luzar said.

Information gained by the research will give tourism professionals an ability to gain more knowledge themselves or share it directly with their visitors.

“Environmental scientists can explain their research through short videos that are shared directly with tourism businesses” Ms Luzar said.

“However, at present we do not know what is important to the tourism professionals.”

With about 206,600 Queenslanders working in the tourism industry according to Tourism Research Australia, a large portion of the population is eligible to participate in Ms Luzar’s research.

She’s encouraging tourism professionals to visit her website here, to have their say, and share the word with colleagues, bosses, friends, business partners, and others.

“It can be any tourism professional, it can be an employee, or it can be anyone who knows anyone who works in the tourism industry,” she said.