The Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators
• The AMPTO is a non-for-profit limited company, funded by members’ contributions, whose role is to represent its members’ interests in all forums, and further the development of best practice in presenting the wonder of this world heritage area to the world.
• AMPTO has members that work out of several different cities in Australia.• Over 600 individual marine-based tourism businesses.• Committed to ensuring the future of the reef by regularly monitoring and improving management of the reef.
• The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest living coral reef.• One of the healthiest reefs in the world today.• Tourism is now the largest commercial activity in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The marine tourism industry is a major contributor to the local and Australian economies.
• On June 28, 2011, Tourist Ian Cole wanted to check out the Reef before heading back to the U.S. after his 6 month stay in Australia.• Cole’s boat left the reef and headed back to the mainland without him.• Cole had been out there for hours that day and was left worn out in open water by himself.
• Luckily there was a boat within sight .• Cole swam the 15 minute swim panicked and tired.• The boat called the Passion of Paradise, the vessel that left Cole, and they shortly back to pick him up.• If the other boat wouldn’t have been within swimming distance, Cole could have easily drowned or been eaten by sharks.• In 1988 two American tourists were left behind at the reef and are believed to either have drowned or been eaten by sharks. The movie “Open Water” is based off of this incident.
Organizational Response• Mckenzie, AMPTO executive officer, was very inconsiderate when it came to the organizations response.• He believed that Cole was never in any danger, and that because other boats were right there there was nothing to worry about.
• Mckenzie made the following statement, “The face that this guy [Ian Cole] talked about this shows that he’s just seeking self-exposure, and wants to be portrayed as a hero, you know, a survivor. There’s no lesson to be learnt from this. He is just making a mountain out of a molehill, and trying to maximize his own self- exposure. It’s just bullshit. He was never in any danger. It was just like being left behind on a beach”
• The organization would not send Cole a letter of apology, with a detailed plan on how they were going to ensure that this never happend again.• Mckenzie and the organization thought this was a lot of Cole to ask, and instead reimbursed him for his ticket and sent him a $200 restaurant voucher.• They would not talk to him about the incident.
Media Response• Although there wasn’t much response in the media, the press was sure to reiterate what had happened and seemed to take Ian Cole’s side of the story.• The org. handled the crisis far too inappropriately and the media was sure to let stakeholders and tourists know.
Stakeholder Response• Ian Cole was very upset with the org. because all he wanted was an apology, and the written plans for future safety. He never got them.• Other operators in the industry said they had an average, at best, system for ensuring role upon departure.• Several people commented on the online articles about how disrespectful and horrible Mckenzie was. Several people said they would never use his services again.
Recommendations• McKenzie should have written Cole the letter he requested.• It is his role to keep AMPTO an ethical and trustworthy organization.• AMPTO needs to reevaluate all of the members they support and make sure all of their safety codes are up to regulation.
• AMPTO didn’t take into consideration that even though Cole wasn’t harmed, this could potentially be a fatal mistake.• Ultimately Mckenzie should have said something like “We are investigating this very regrettable mistake and will take all necessary actions to ensure this will not happen again. We are very lucky there were other boats around so that Cole was able to get help. We want to make a public apology ensuring Cole and past and future tourists that this will not happen again,” instead of being so inconsiderate and careless about the ordeal.