Welcoming Belizean guests to Great Barrier Reef

29 November 2018

(Issued by Department of the Environment and Energy)

We have been delighted this week to join colleagues at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in hosting the Belizean Deputy Prime Minister and guests at Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

The Belizean visitors, which include The Hon. Patrick Faber, Deputy Prime Minister of Belize and Minister of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture, and Mr Roosevelt Blades, Secretary General of Belize’s National Commission for UNESCO, were invited by the Department, to learn more about Australia’s approach to sustainable eco-tourism on the Reef.

Acting Assistant Secretary for the Marine and International Heritage Branch, Mahani Taylor, said Belize’s reef system is second in size only to the Great Barrier Reef, and about 200,000 Belizeans are dependent on the reef for their livelihood.

“The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System has been on the World Heritage List since 1996. It was placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2009 following concerns about sales of lands for private development,” said Ms Taylor.

“However, it’s a wonderful result that it was removed from the danger list during the 42nd World Heritage Committee meeting earlier this year, with the Belizean government putting sustainability and tourism at the heart of their economy.”

Deputy Prime Minister Faber said the party have attended the Global Eco Tourism Conference in Townsville, and visited the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

“Today we are privileged to take a field trip out to Moore Reef, off Cairns, to learn more about Australia’s sustainable tourism management. We have also been welcomed by Queensland Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch, State Government officials, NGOs and tourism groups, who have been incredibly generous in sharing their time and knowledge,” he said.

Ms Taylor said it’s been a pleasure to show the visitors our beautiful Reef. “Visits like this help to build strong and productive relationships with land and sea managers around the world, building on joint international approaches such as the International Coral Reef Initiative and Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, which is supported by the Australian Institute of Marine Science.”

Deputy Prime Minister Faber and his guests return to Belize on Friday.