Whitsunday tourism operators join a Partnership to lead on climate change


The Whitsunday Climate Change Innovation Hub has welcomed the first group of official Healthy Heart Reef Partners, with over twenty of our region’s proud tourism operators, marinas and island resorts attending a welcoming presentation on Tuesday 19 October.

The Partners will be working together to help decarbonise the tourism sector while achieving sustainable destination accreditation for the Whitsunday Region.

The Healthy Heart Project provides an opportunity for Partners within the local tourism sector to set higher and more ambitious targets for climate change mitigation, to improve the health of our reef and lead the way towards our region achieving a zero net emissions target by 2050.

Leading the official welcome was Mayor Andrew Wilcox, along with Aunty Sue West, representing Ngaro, Gia & Juru people, the Traditional Owners of the Whitsunday Islands and Proserpine area.

Lee Hawkins, Climate Change Resilience Officer at the Hub, announced the initial EarthCheck rapid assessment for the Sustainable Destination Certification has been completed.

“A Sustainability Policy will now be put in place by Council to align with the ambitions of this project and the region’s goal to become a Sustainable Destination,” Ms Hawkins said.

Presenting on the importance of setting ambitious targets in our region was the Hub’s Coordinator, Olivia Brodhurst.

“The reef is highly susceptible to global warming with 90% of corals expected to be suffering from bleaching by the time the world reaches 1.5 degrees warming, so every effort to reduce emissions is needed to protect the reef,” Ms Brodhurst said.

“This is an important opportunity to band together as a tourism destination to make a real difference for the sector and the Whitsunday Region.”

“Our community is at the forefront in driving change in this space and our Partners will be leading the way for the tourism sector.”

Great Barrier Reef Foundation Managing Director Anna Marsden said we’re already seeing the effects of climate change in many parts of our Reef and the time to act is now.

“We’re proud to be working towards a carbon neutral Reef industry in the Whitsundays as part of our Reef Islands Initiative, which is protecting the habitats of the thousands of species of marine life that call the Reef home,” Ms Marsden said.

The Reef Islands Initiative is a Great Barrier Reef Foundation program, supported by funding from Lendlease, the Australian Government’s Reef Trust, the Queensland Government and the Fitzgerald Family Foundation.