The Great Barrier Reef is special becausea) it's the largest marine system or reef system anywhere on the planet, it's one ofthe most diverse ecosystems anywhere on the planet and it's also one of the most accessible.
It attracts nearly two million a year at the moment and that number is increasing yearon year.
It's a really humbling experience when youfirst snorkel or dive on the Great Barrier Reef.
The complexity, the diversity, the abundanceof life is really quite breathtaking when you see it and it still has that effect.
Ican go to the same spots and still have that same experience today.
I get such a kick out of watching people going in the water and "Wow," and the lights upoff their faces and the little kids when they get close to a turtle or a manta ray, it'sso exciting.
It's worth more than gold in my mind.
Currently the reef contributes over $5.
5 billion directly out of tourism but in the wider communityeconomic benefits that could flow on, it's been estimated $15-25 billion.
There's over730 tourism operators and they employ over 64,000 full time people and the wider reefemploys about 69,000.
Coral can't live out of the water for morethan a couple of hours.
Tourism is an amazingly important asset forthe Great Barrier Reef.
I came here as a visitor and I fell in love with the reef.
I had neverseen the reef before.
I'd never seen so much diversity of fish life, of coral, of birdlife.
The excitement to me was amazing and I had this burning desire to want to enjoyit, to share it and protect it.
We love guests to come out here, to see it, to fall in lovewith it and then they will go away and protect it.
And you just go in carefully.
Just like the islands of old, we've evolvedand learned.
We don't use little plastic water bottles.
We only have recyclable water bottles.
We turn glass back into sand.
We fly all of our recyclable rubbish off in the airplanesevery day.
We use airplanes that have got the best fuel burn per passenger seat mileto minimise that environmental impact.
We've reduced our fuel burn from 550 litres of diesela day to around 100 litres a day or about 50,000 litres a year.
So it's a 75% reduction.
That's why Lady Elliot is so special because we're right on the edge of the shelf and theocean� Tourism is almost a $6 billion a year industryto the Great Barrier Reef.
So it's a very financially important business, but more importantlyit's an environmentally important business.
We're doing a good job.
The reef has turnedthe corner.
Great, positive outcomes are occurring and we're seeing more and more examples ofthat, but we can't rest on our laurels.
We have to keep the pressure on for finding newways, better ways to manage the park.
Eye on the Reef is a monitoring program wheretourism operators collect data on key species which we then feed into the Great BarrierReef Marine Park Authority and the Authority then get the big picture.
We're out on the reef every day, so we're able to see change as it's happening.
We canthen alert the authorities and actually have them come up and have a closer look at somethingthat's going on whether it be the onset of some coral bleaching or Crown-of-thorn starfishappearing.
We're finding more and more that our guests are interested in contributingto the understanding of the Great Barrier Reef.
They really want to know that theirvisit to the reef isn't having a negative impact.
We often have people that are very nervous, they're very scared of snorkelling, they'renot great swimmers, so, and are reluctant to get in.
We persevere with those peopleand we get them in a life jacket, give them a noodle.
Once we actually get them in thewater we really struggle to get them back out again at the end of the day.
It's an incrediblyunique environment that everybody should get to see at least once in their life.