Deloitte says the Great Barrier Reef is 'worth' $56 billion

A Hawksbill sea turtle. Photo: Mark Kolbe/ Getty Images.

The Great Barrier Reef is worth $56 billion, the equivalent of 12 Sydney Opera Houses, according to a new Deloitte Access Economics report,

As part of a six-month analysis project, Deloitte found that at $29 billion, tourism is the biggest contributor to that overall value.

It also added $6.4 billion of economic value to the Australian economy in 2015-16 and employs 64,000 people nationally — that’s more than Qantas, Telstra or Kmart.

To put it another way, the NBN is a $50 billion national infrastructure project.

Great Barrier Reef Foundation/ Supplied

It’s the first time the full economic, social and iconic brand value of the World Heritage site has been calculated.

And at a time when concerns over the health of the reef are growing and national debate over protecting the area from developments such as the Adani’s Abbot Point deepwater coal port near Bowen.

Deloitte’s report uses an expression normally associated with the banking sector when talking about the reef.

“This report sends a clear message that the Great Barrier Reef – as an ecosystem, as an economic driver, as a global treasure – is too big to fail,” it says.

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