In areas with high-volume tourism, repeated direct contact with the reef poses an immediate threat. Hundreds of boat groundings and hundreds of thousands of tourist interactions each year reduce sections of coral reef to rubble. Human contact also reduces coral’s ability to cope with stressors such as rising sea temperatures and diseases.
Yet if tourism is managed in a way that protects the reef, it can offer great economic benefits to local communities. The benefits of sustainable tourism provides a powerful incentive for communities to protect their reef and its fish.
CORAL has developed a set of voluntary standards for hotels, dive operators and shops, and other businesses that wish to make sure their marine recreation and tourism operations are protective of coral reefs. Sites in Hawai`i, Mexico, and Honduras have adopted voluntary standards for sustainable tourism.