When you teach tourists how to act responsibly around coral reefs, the resulting behavior significantly reduces negative tourism impacts on reefs. But the sheer number of tourism sites and dive opportunities around the world makes delivering this needed information a formidable challenge.
CORAL has developed an innovative approach to delivering information about coral-friendly practices to both marine tourism operators and people visiting reef areas: The CORAL Reef Leadership Network.
By training a network of qualified local CORAL Reef Leaders to conduct and sustain educational outreach and disseminate best practices, CORAL is in essence "training the trainers." The CORAL Reef Leadership Network identifies and recruits respected and motivated local leaders in the marine community so members have the credibility and background knowledge necessary to inspire trust. The leaders' presence on site ensures continuity in an industry known for high turnover and serves as a touchstone on coral conservation in the region.
Training provides leaders with the knowledge and skills to effectively convey CORAL’s educational curriculum about reef conservation, resource management, and sustainable tourism practices to marine recreation providers. Under the guidance of CORAL's field staff and with a stipend to sponsor their efforts, CORAL Reef Leaders are empowered to teach CORAL’s Sustainable Marine Recreation workshops and conduct collaborative outreach in their local region.
CORAL has developed a sequenced and comprehensive set of professional development workshops targeting marine recreation providers and providing an introduction to the principles and practices of sustainable marine recreation. New and veteran marine recreation providers work together at these workshops to increase their confidence and gain familiarity with current coral science and research, issues in reef management, benefits of marketing sustainability, and what educational experts have identified as effective strategies for learning in informal educational settings.
As the program matures, CORAL Reef Leaders will be training new leaders and an organic and growing sphere of knowledge and acceptance of sustainable practices will be created throughout entire regions. Through the CORAL Reef Leadership Network, CORAL has created the capacity to not only institutionalize marine tourism outreach and the implementation of best practices in our project sites, but also provide a mechanism for outreach, learning, and modeling of sustainability to neighboring coastal communities as well.