Live-aboard dive boats in the Great Barrier Reef: regional economic impact and the relative values of their target marine species

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Using data collected from more than 1,000 tourists on live-aboard dive boats operating in the Cairns/Cooktown management area of the Great Barrier Reef, this paper estimates the regional economic impact of that live-aboard industry. It also uses a subset of these data (247 respondents) to investigate some of the relative 'values' of key marine species seen on the trips that included the Coral Sea location of Osprey Reef and which targeted multiple species of wildlife. The authors find that (i) each year, the live-aboard dive boats are directly responsible for generating at least AU$16 million worth of income in the Cairns/Port Douglas region; (ii) visitors participating in different types of trips gain their highest levels of 'satisfaction' from interacting with different types of species; and (iii) visitors to Osprey Reef would be willing to pay more for a 'guaranteed' sighting of sharks than they would for a 'guaranteed' sighting of large fish, marine turtles or a 'wide variety of species'.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2010

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  • Tourism Economics, published bimonthly, is a peer-reviewed journal devoted to the economics and finance of tourism worldwide. Articles address the components of the tourism product (accommodation; restaurants; merchandizing; attractions; transport; entertainment; tourist activities); and the economic organization of tourism at micro and macro levels (market structure; role of public/private sectors; community interests; strategic planning; marketing; finance; economic development).

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