When life turns upside down, some people sit in a stupor and wonder what has happened; others see the new reality as an opportunity to create a better world.
The last two years have been rough for everyone in one way or another, but Passions of Paradise have not let the pandemic consume them. Instead, they have literally dived into the deep end and increased their focus on partnering with scientists on the Great Barrier Reef, leading them to be named a Sustainable Tourism Award finalist in the Banksia National Sustainability Awards.
Passions of Paradise Chief Executive Officer, Scott Garden, said the locally owned business had worked with scientists to discover seagrass in new locations, plant more than 5000 corals, and train Indigenous Rangers to assist in gathering data on the Great Barrier Reef.
The Sustainable Tourism Award recognises outstanding achievements by an organisation that champions the protection, conservation, and regeneration of the environment they operate in and the protection of the natural environment across Australia.
Entries must meet the criteria of the Sustainable Tourism Award, which are considered over a two-to-five-year timescale with activity commencing in 2019 or 2021. Passions of Paradise have ticked all the boxes.
“In October 2021, we helped an all-female team from James Cook University to explore the Ribbon Reefs north of Cairns, where they discovered seagrass in new locations.
“Through the Great Barrier Reef Census in 2021, we surveyed 69 sites across 14 reefs and captured more than 1000 images for the project.
“Over the past two years, working through the University of Technology Sydney and the Coral Nurture Program, we have created 14 coral nurseries to grow more than 50 species of coral and planted in excess of 5000 corals across three sites on Hastings Reef,” Mr Garden said.
Helping to research, regrow, and renew the world’s coral reefs, Passions of Paradise welcomed researchers from down south during the past two years.
“We also assisted the Southern Cross University Coral IVF project by hosting researchers monitoring the impact of redistributing coral spawn at sites including our ‘Five Ways’ dive location where it has increased in new coral colonies and biodiversity.
Passions of Paradise are also passionate about helping local school children learn about the Great Barrier Reef.
“Passions also hosted five Indigenous trainees from AFL Cape York House over the past three years. Two of them were employed part-time while at school, with one successfully graduating into full-time employment.
“Other initiatives include donating the vessel and crew to various scientific and community-based organisations including assisting the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre release two rescued turtles.”
As visitor numbers start to increase, Passions of Paradise will return to seven days a week and have been one of many local businesses that have had to pivot their operations during Covid and are reaping the rewards.