Great Barrier
Reef Foundation
Donate Now

$56 billion


total economic, social and icon asset value

$6.4 billion


national economic contribution

64,000 jobs


supported by the Reef – more than Qantas, Telstra or Kmart

Cover.jpg

Download the report

The economic, social and icon value of the Great Barrier Reef

This report assesses the economic, social, icon and brand value of the Great Barrier Reef. Its purpose is to gauge the Great Barrier Reef’s value to Australians and understand how the international community values it. This research synthesises the results from a range of publicly available data sources, a new survey of over 1,500 Australians and residents from 10 countries world-wide, fresh insights from stakeholder consultations and the efforts of previous research. The sample was representative and the size statistically significant.

The report estimates the Great Barrier Reef’s: 

  • Contribution to the Australian economy in 2015–16 through industry value added and employment, 
  • Economic, social and icon value, 
  • Significance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Owners, and brand value to Australia and the international community

This timely report is a much needed, holistic view of the incredible economic value and opportunities provided by the Great Barrier Reef.

Al Gore
Economic contribution of the Reef

Economic contribution of the Reef

Annual contribution

The first way of valuing the Reef is through its annual contribution to the Australian economy in terms of value added (Gross Domestic Product) and employment.

Our research has shown the Great Barrier Reef contributed $6.4 billion in value added and over 64,000 jobs to the Australian economy in 2015–16 (direct and indirect). Most of these jobs came from tourism activities generated by the Great Barrier Reef, but there were also important economic contributions from fishing, recreational and scientific activities.

Annual employment

Annual employment

The annual employment supported by the Great Barrier Reef is more than most of Australia’s major banks, and many corporates including the likes of Qantas and Deloitte Australia.

Considering this, the Reef is critical to supporting economic activity and jobs in Australia. The livelihoods and businesses it supports across Australia far exceeds the numbers supported by many industries we would consider too big to fail.

Total economic, social and icon value to Australia

Total economic, social and icon value to Australia

Economic, social and icon asset value

Another way of valuing the Reef is its economic, social and icon asset value. This figure captures the broader aspects of why we value the Reef, and cannot be added to the annual economic contribution figure.

More than the jobs it supports and the value it adds to the economy each year, the Great Barrier Reef is valued at $56 billion as an Australian economic, social and iconic asset.

That's more than 12 Sydney Opera Houses, or the cost of building Australia's new submarines. It’s even more than 4 times the length of the Great Wall of China in $100 notes.

This is Australia’s Reef. This is our natural asset. If we split the $56 billion asset value down into its parts:

  • Australians who have visited the Reef as tourists – on their honeymoon, on a family holiday, on a bucket-list trip – derive $29 billion in value
  • Australians that have not yet visited the Reef – but value knowing that it exists – derive $24 billion in value
  • And the lucky Australians that are recreational users of the Reef – going to the beach, taking the boat out, diving on the weekends – derive $3 billion in value.

more than 12 Sydney Opera Houses

Why do people value the Reef?

So why do people value the Great Barrier Reef? What makes it worth $56 billion? Australians and the international community value the Great Barrier Reef for a range of reasons.

Some reasons are more concrete such as their belief in its importance for tourism, while some are more abstract such as their belief that Australia would just not be ‘the same’ without it.

Australians want their children and future generations to be able to visit the Great Barrier Reef and enjoy it. From a global perspective, the Great Barrier Reef’s importance to the planet and to biodiversity is paramount. By every measure, the Great Barrier Reef is seen as the natural asset contributing most powerfully to Australia’s global brand. In our research, the Great Barrier Reef left other Australian land-based natural assets far behind in terms of visitor preference, reputation and experience.

Australia

Australia

International

International

Partners

Background

In 2009, the Foundation commissioned Oxford Economics to undertake an analysis of the total economic value of the Great Barrier Reef and the effects of bleaching in 2009. 

Deloitte Access Economics were engaged by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMPA) in 2013 to undertake an analysis of the annual economic contribution of the Great Barrier Reef.

Given the significance of the recent bleaching event and a heightened public dialogue about whether enough is being done to protect our Reef, the Foundation commissioned Deloitte Access Economics in 2016 to prepare a new report that provides the total economic value of the Great Barrier Reef. 

Stay up to date with news and research highlights from the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.