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Coral reef systems as a tourism resource
2018 was proclaimed as the Third International Year of the Reef by the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), an informal partnership between countries and organisations such as the United Nations that aims to strengthen awareness globally about the value of, and threats to, the world’s coral reefs and related ecosystems (ICRI, n.d.). This initiative highlights the interest in coral reefs but also highlights the urgent nature of the problems faced by all coral reef ecosystems. Coral reefs are renowned for their diversity of marine life, colour and beauty. Sadly, however, their use for a range of economic gain, including tourism, has in many areas resulted in their degradation and even loss. While generating an estimated USD$1 trillion per year (Hoegh-Guldberg, 2015) in value, including ecosystem services, academic investigation of coral reefs remains largely the preserve of the sciences. Understanding of the impacts of tourism on coral reef ecosystems remains limited. The aim of this chapter is to introduce a range of issues that have emerged at the intersection of tourism and coral reefs. Later chapters in this book explore many of these issues in greater detail, both thematically and geographically.