4680.0 - Experimental Environmental-Economic Accounts for the Great Barrier Reef, 2017 Quality Declaration
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 21/08/2017 First Issue
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Tourism has become the largest economic activity in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (the Reef), and a major economic activity in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Region. A significant share of Tourism activity in the region is related to the Great Barrier Reef and natural features such as beaches, rivers and rainforests also feature prominently among the region's attractions.
Tourist expenditure is far higher in the Wet Tropics natural resource management region (NRMR) than elsewhere even though visit numbers are not proportionately higher. This reflects the status of Cairns as a major point of origin for marine tourism activity in the Reef, especially for international travellers.
TOURISM AND CULTURAL ECOSYSTEM SERVICES
Tourism activity that is dependent on ecosystems is considered to derive a "cultural ecosystem service" from nature. Some cultural services provide direct contributions to economic activity, such as tourism and recreational services. The local, non-tourism recreational use of these ecosystems is also an important feature of the amenity value of the Reef and GBR Region but is not quantified in this publication due to lack of available data.
Other cultural services are implicit in the values placed on land ownership. An example is the utility people derive from the landscape, including the value of a scenic view, or the spiritual connection of indigenous peoples to land. Many cultural services are therefore difficult to measure as exchange values. For discussion of the importance of the region's ecosystems to traditional owners, see the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples section of this publication.
This section covers both the terrestrial and marine domains of tourism activity in the GBR Region.
TOURISM SATELLITE ACCOUNTS
This publication describes tourism activity and identifies factor inputs to overall tourism activity, but does not identify a specific contribution by ecosystems to tourism in the GBR Region.
Tourism is a conventional economic activity within scope of the System of National Accounts (SNA) but is defined by consumer rather than by industry classification. Tourism activity is reported within the ABS with a Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) (Australian National Accounts: Tourism Satellite Account (cat. no. 5249.0)). Estimates in this section are derived as a regional proportion of the estimates contained within the TSA.
Intangible inputs to tourism activity (including ecosystem services inputs, but not exclusively) have been estimated through the calculation of 'tourism rent' in the terrestrial domain. Ecosystem contribution is not explicitly identified as a factor of production in the SNA or the TSA. It will instead be reflected within estimates of economic rent, which is the residual calculated after known factors of production are deducted from gross output. This residual is labelled 'tourism rent' and is analogous to the resource rent observed when businesses extract economic benefit from the ownership of assets (with the difference being that tourism-related businesses do not generally own the tourist-attracting resources). Refer to the Explanatory Notes for details on this calculation.
Estimates for the marine domain are derived from an exchange value for offshore tourism access to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The section also provides some contextual information around onshore tourism activity, such as Tourism Direct Gross Value Added and regional tourism employment.
TERRESTRIAL TOURISM SERVICES
Table 1 describes the size and economic contribution of tourism in the GBR Region over the period 2007-08 to 2015-16. The table presents estimates for aggregates such as tourism direct gross value added, direct tourism employment and direct tourism consumption.
TABLE 1. TOURISM, GBR REGION, 2007-08 to 2015-16, Selected Indicators
GRAPH 1. TOURISM, GBR REGION, 2006-07 to 2015-16, Selected Indicators
Table 1 shows the number of visitors to the GBR Region increased from 15.2 million in 2007-08 to 17.8 million in 2015-16. This change is reflected in the value of direct tourism consumption, which increased from $8.4b to $10.0b.
Tourism rent increased from 12% to 16% of tourism GVA. This means that tourism output rose faster than the cost of human inputs such as labour, materials, produced capital and finance. In other words, tourism obtained an increasing share of value from inputs by tourism attractions, including from ecosystems. Due to the nature of economic rent with regards to tourism activity, this does not define the specific ecosystem service contribution to tourism. Non-market contributors to tourism are much wider than just ecosystems. The relationship between tourism and ecosystem services varies widely by area, such that an estimate of tourism rent does not necessarily equate to an estimate of ecosystem rent. A large share of tourist activity in the GBR Region is dependent on the region's terrestrial and marine ecosystems, very likely a much greater share than for tourism in a major urban centre. Nonetheless, tourism rent will contain more than just ecosystem services input.
Tourism employed about 46,000 people in 2015-16, and between 2010-11 and 2014-15, tourism employment averaged about 8.2% of total employment in the Great Barrier Reef Region (note that the Data Cubes of this publication contain a fuller time series than the tables of this section). This would make tourism, if counted as an industry, one of the more significant employing industries in the region. As a comparison, Education and Training jobs made up about 8.1% of total jobs in the region in 2011-12. For more context on the structure of employment and businesses by industry and occupation, refer to the Employment and Business profile section.
TABLE 2. TOURISM EXPENDITURE, BY NRM REGION, GBR REGION, 2007-08 to 2015-16, Current Prices
GRAPH 2. TOURISM EXPENDITURE, BY NRM REGION, GBR REGION, 2006-07 TO 2015-16, Current prices ($m)
Table 2 shows tourism expenditure by NRM region in the GBR Region. The Wet Tropics NRM region recorded the highest tourism expenditure each year through the reference period. The Wet Tropics NRM is centred around Cairns, one of the major launching point for tours to the Great Barrier Reef, and also includes Port Douglas, another major location for tour launches. The Great Barrier Reef is quite close to the shoreline in this part of the catchment compared to further south. In addition to the Reef, this region includes the World Heritage listed Wet Tropical Rainforests.
Visitors made longer trips (an average of 3 nights per visitor) with greater expenditure per trip than to NRM regions further south. Wet Tropics NRM region receives over three times as many international visitors as any other NRM region. All of this paints a picture of the Wet Tropics region as an area attracting higher expenditure than in other NRM regions with comparable or greater numbers of total visitors, thanks in part to its positioning as a well-known destination specifically for ecosystem related attractions.
The fastest growth in tourism expenditure (36%) was in the Burdekin region, in which is located the GBR region's largest city, Townsville. However in contrast to the Wet Tropics region centred around Cairns, the Burdekin NRM region receives far fewer international visitors and Townsville receives far fewer visitors than Cairns who stay in hotels rather than with friends or family.
Table 2 shows that tourism expenditure in the Mackay Whitsunday region declined by 4.4% in current prices terms between 2007-08 and 2015-16, and the fuller time series available in Data Cubes also shows a decline of 19% from peaks in 2009-10 and 2012-13. This decline has been driven by domestic visitors, as international visitor expenditure continued to grow. As shown in Table 3 below, visitor numbers fell from 1.8 million in 2007-08 and 2.0 million in the 2009-10 peak, to 1.7 million in 2015-16. In addition, the average nights spent in the region per visitor fell from 3.1 to 2.7.
TABLE 3. VISITORS AND VISITOR NIGHTS, BY NRM GBR REGION, 2007-08 to 2015-16, Numbers (millions)
GRAPH 3. VISITORS BY NRM REGION, GBR REGION, 2006-07 to 2015-16, Index
Table 3 shows the number of visitors and the length of time (visitor nights) spent in the region and Graph 2 illustrates visitors change over time compared to the base year of 2006-07. Visitor numbers grew across the decade in every NRM region except Mackay Whitsunday where visitor numbers were over 20% lower in 2015-16 than in 2006-07. Cape York NRM region visitor numbers increased markedly after 2012-13 (by over 50% above the base year) compared to previous years. This however is based on a small sample of survey respondents and should be treated with some caution.
The average number of visitor nights per visitor in the entire GBR Region declined from 2.6 nights in 2007-08 to 2.4 in 2015-16, however, visit length in the Fitzroy region increased from 1.7 to 2.2 nights per visitor. The most visited region was Wet Tropics, which also reported far greater tourist expenditure than other regions.
Over the ten year period, visitors spent the least time, on average, in the two southernmost NRM regions of Burnett Mary and Fitzroy. Average stay lengths tended to be longer further north, with the Wet Tropics having the highest ten-year average number of visitor nights per visitor aside from Cape York.
MARINE PARK TOURISM
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority levies an Environmental Management Charge (EMC) on users of the park engaging in tours and other experiences with registered operators. The EMC is collected by tourism operators from visitors to the Marine Park, and is paid to the Commonwealth Government. It contributes to the management of the Marine Park, and is applied differentially by the type of visit undertaken. Note that the actual charge value has changed through the time series.
Table 4 below shows the number of visits to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park over the period 2007-08 to 2015-16. The table also shows the value of total revenue collected through the EMC in the same period. The number of visits to the Marine Park increased from 1.9 million to 2.3 million across the reference period. The value of revenue collected in the Marine Park increased by 20 per cent from $7.3 million to $8.8 million in the same period, due to gradual increases in part-day and full-day charges. From 2012, the EMC charged by operators was reduced for three years, being offset by the Commonwealth Government. The data reported includes both components of the Environmental Management Charge.
Table 4 compares visitor numbers to the Marine Park with total tourist visits to the GBR Region. This comparison is presented to provide information on the relative scale of Reef tourism relative to GBR Region tourism. Note that there are scope differences which inhibit precise comparison. Some customers of registered operators are likely to be locals whose activity does not fall within scope of tourism surveys. Additionally, for the purpose of this account, each charge is counted as a visit to the park, though users are reminded that this does not indicate 'people day' visits. For example, one visitor may be charged more than one fee per day depending on the types of visits they are engaging in. Regardless, bearing in mind these scope differences, comparison of Marine Park EMC data and GBR Region tourism visitors suggests that over 1 in 10 visitors to the GBR Region may be visiting the Marine Park itself.
TABLE 4. TOURISM, GREAT BARRIER REEF MARINE PARK, 2007-08 to 2015-16
The EMC is a source of funding to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and is therefore contributing to the totals within the Expenditure on Environmental Goods and Services section of this publication. These two views approximate a "supply and use" relationship wherein on the "supply side" the EMC represents a valuation of the Reef as a source of tourism cultural ecosystem services. On the "use side", the revenue derived from this value to tourists is invested back into maintaining the Reef.
Conceptually, the EMC should be considered as an entirely additional source of ecosystem service valuation, rather than as a component of Tourism Rent as discussed in this chapter. However in practice, the EMC impacts regional expenditure apportionment and thus is likely to have very slightly inflated the estimates of tourism in the region. Regardless of this, EMC is still considered to be a mostly additional measure of tourism ecosystem service valuation.
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