The Value

The Reef is an irreplaceable global icon. As Australians, we should be proud that it's our responsibility to look after it.

$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

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

#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.

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
Read the Report
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

#More than 12 Sydney Opera Houses

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.

#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.






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. 


Deloitte Access Economics
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
Turtle on the Reef with Staghorn coral

#Help her survive the heat

The Great Barrier Reef is fighting for life and we are fighting for her future.