When dreaming of a tropical getaway, we often envision stunning coastal vistas and coral reefs teeming with wildlife. As visitors, these underwater ecosystems quench our wanderlust by providing a remarkable backdrop and playground for adventure. But coral reefs provide so much more than tourist gratification – they are incredibly important assets for the communities who live near them as well. About 40% of people live within 60 miles (100km) of the coast. Of these people, more than 275 million live in close proximity to coral reefs (within 30 km of reefs and less than 10 km from the coast). These nearby inhabitants often depend on reefs for their survival and well-being.
Guest Contribution by Dr. Robert Brumbaugh, Director of Ocean Planning and Protection, The Nature Conservancy
Tourism is one of the world’s largest industries, contributing trillions of dollars to the global economy and supporting the livelihoods of an estimated one in ten people worldwide. Much of that tourism depends on the natural world—on beautiful landscapes and seascapes that visitors flock to in search of escape, a second wind, and a direct connection with nature itself. Coastal and marine tourism represents a significant share of the industry and is an important component of the growing, sustainable Blue Economy, supporting more than 6.5 million jobs—second only to industrial fishing. With anticipated global growth rates of more than 3.5%, coastal and marine tourism is projected to be the largest value-adding segment of the ocean economy by 2030, at 26%.