The Great Barrier Reef has an economic, social and icon asset value of $56 billion, according to a Deloitte Australia report.
It is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and draws more than one million visitors each year.
STA Travel Agent at the University of Wollongong Elise Feutrill said while the valuation seemed steep, she could understand the hefty pricetag, given the reef’s international status.
“$56 billion is a high figure, but in saying that, it is definitely the number one travel destination that we book here at the agency, especially for international students,” Ms Feutrill said.
When compared to other Australian assets, the reef’s price equates to more than 12 Sydney Opera Houses, or the cost of building Australia’s new submarine fleet.
The report also revealed the reef contributed $6.4 billion in value-added business benefits and over 64,000 jobs to the Australian economy in 2015-16.
A majority of the jobs came from tourism activities and programs generated by the Great Barrier Reef, but there were also key economic contributions from fishing, recreational and scientific activities.
Of the total valuation calculated, $29 billion is attributed to tourism and visitations.
“I’d say that this year alone, we have had more than 100 bookings for people who wanted to tick the Great Barrier Reef off their bucket list,” Ms Feutrill said.
Of the remaining valuation, $24 billion comes from the non-use value of the reef.
The reef’s “non-use” value is an assessment of how much people are prepared to pay to protect the reef
It was found that 58 per cent of the Australians have an average weekly willingness to pay $1.30, or $67.60 annually, to ensure the reef is protected into the future.
The remaining $3 billion of the valuation is allocated to its recreational purposes.
Ms Feutrill said the ideal time to travel to the Great Barrier Reef is during the winter months to avoid the stingray breeding season and humid climates.