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David Attenborough returns to film the Great Barrier Reef

17 March 2015

David Attenborough returns to the Great Barrier Reef nearly 60 years after his first visit, as part of a new multi-platform media project between Atlantic Productions and Tourism Australia aimed at inspiring greater interest and more visits to the world’s largest coral reef system.

Tourism Australia announced the new collaboration today (Tuesday 17 March) at its inaugural Destination Australia Conference in Sydney.

Expected to air early in 2016 and anticipated to be distributed across more than 130 countries, the three-part documentary series will form a key part of a renewed push by Tourism Australia to promote Australia’s aquatic and coastal experiences.

Tourism Australia Managing Director, John O’Sullivan, said it was great to see David Attenborough filming on the Great Barrier Reef again.

“It’s wonderful to welcome David back to the Reef where he will, once again, bring to life the many amazing stories of this magnificent natural wonder in his own unique and inimitable way.

“David Attenborough is one of the world’s greatest presenters of natural history content, and the Great Barrier Reef is arguably the world’s most recognised natural wonder. We couldn’t ask for a better match,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

David spent three weeks on the Reef as part of the filming schedule, including time aboard one of the world's most advanced research vessels equipped with the latest cutting-edge technology.

He said returning to the Reef with the latest technology and science provided an exciting opportunity to see one of the most important places on earth in a whole new way. 

“The most exciting natural history experience of my life was the first time I dived on a coral reef [in 1957]. Being on the reef is a revelatory, thrilling and unbeatable experience and with this project we’re going to be able to share it with millions,” Mr Attenborough said.

CEO of Atlantic Productions and producer for the project Anthony Geffen said that combining the latest technology with cutting edge research and science would help audiences in understanding more about one of the most fascinating places on the planet.

“This project is intended to go beyond a documentary series and we hope it will provide new inspiration through ground-breaking digital content to natural history lovers all over the world,” Mr Geffen said.

Mr O’Sullivan said the Great Barrier Reef remains one of Australia’s strongest tourism draw cards, attracting more than 1.9 million visitors each year and with 90 per cent of the direct economic contribution in the region derived from tourism.

“We already know from our consumer research that Australia’s biggest competitive strength is its world class nature, something which is extremely highly regarded from all our key target markets and very much a core part of our global tourism offering,” he said.

Mr O’Sullivan said the same research revealed that aquatic and coastal experiences were amongst the greatest drivers of international visitor demand, specifically to Australia where the Great Barrier Reef ranked highly in appeal amongst international visitors.

“The Great Barrier Reef is a huge part of our destination appeal, with consumers in the UK, US, Singapore and Japan actually ranking it as their number one most appealing Australian attraction.

“It’s vital that we continue to show the world why our aquatic and coastal experiences are so unique, and this film will undoubtedly help tell that story to a truly global audience in an authentic and engaging way,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

Mr O’Sullivan said that the collaboration between Atlantic Productions and Tourism Australia and the unique visual assets being created would help to educate global audiences about the beauty and importance of the Great Barrier Reef, and ultimately inspire more visits. 

Tourism Australia is developing plans to translate the global exposure into more visits by utilising the unique video, digital, print and PR assets generated by the project.

Note to editors:

Atlantic Productions is one of the world’s leading factual production companies, whose TV and film productions have won BAFTAs, Emmys and other top industry awards. Atlantic’s productions with David Attenborough have been seen by more than one billion people in more than 150 countries, since their first collaboration in 2009.

Covering an area of almost 350,000 square kilometres from around Bundaberg in the south to the northern tip of Queensland, the World Heritage Area, the Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef ecosystem and considered to be one of the seven natural wonders of the natural world.

Stock library video footage of the Great Barrier Reef (not associated with the Atlantic Productions series) can be downloaded free of charge from Tourism Australia’s video gallery.

Contacts for this article

Tourism Australia
General Manager Media and Communications
+61 2 9361 1363, 0447 463 197
Email Address

Atlantic Productions
Monique Levine
+44 207 932 9825
Email Address