An Australian expert says we should consider charging much more to visit the Great Barrier Reef.

Deloitte Access Economics has valued the Great Barrier Reef at $56 billion “as an Australian economic, social and iconic asset”, but the daily fee to enter the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is just $6.50.

Michael Vardon, an expert in environmental accounting at ANU, says a visit to a similarly environmentally-significant site like trips to see Rwanda’s mountain gorillas costs up to US$1,500.

While many object to putting monetary values on assets like the Great Barrier Reef, Prof Varden says it can be necessary to assimilate environmental information into the economic processes that underpin most decisions.

“Personally, I would be happy to pay more to visit the Great Barrier Reef,” he said in an article for The Conversation.

“Does this mean we’re undervaluing our most important natural wonder? And if we do ask visitors to pay a higher price, would it actually help the reef or simply harm tourism numbers?”

The full article is accessible here.