Lonely Planet Writer

How travellers can win a trip and protect the coral reefs in Belize and Australia

While Belize and Australia may not be near each other on the map, the countries share a connection as the home of the two largest barrier reefs on the planet.

A diver swims near the Belize Barrier Reef. Image by ©Douglas Klug/Getty Images

Now, in an effort to help those important ecosystems, the Belize Tourism Board has teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund to create the Sister Reef Project, which will raise awareness and funds for the protection of the reefs. The Belize Barrier Reef is a popular diving and snorkeling destination that attracts visitors from around the globe. It was dedicated as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1996. Luckily for those eager to visit Belize, there’s a chance to win trips to see it for yourself. The project is an online fundraiser that will allow travellers to buy credits that will go towards reef conservation efforts, and enter them to win experiences in Belize. The prizes include airline tickets, accommodation at more than a dozen resorts, an aerial tour over the Great Blue Hole, diving tours and more.

The Blue Hole in the Caribbean Ocean off the coast of Belize. Image by ©Tami Freed/Shutterstock

From now until 29 March, US travelers can make a donation to the online fundraiser. Every US$5 donation can be applied to purchase credits that will allow them to enter for a chance to win. See the auction items and learn more about conservation efforts at SisterReefProject.com.

Nadia Bood, Mesoamerican reef scientist and climate change officer at the World Wildlife Fund, told Lonely Planet that reefs are incredible important locally and nationally as they support communities through fisheries and tourism. According to Bood, the greatest threats to the reefs in Belize is coastal development, pollution and climate change. But, she has some advice for travellers who want to visit coral reefs responsibly: “Travellers can voluntarily participate in coral watch programs if such exist at the destinations they visit…such programs benefit from tourist providing their feedback on condition of the reefs they visit, any infractions observed during the reef visit, and helping to share information with other fellow tourists on what not to do when snorkeling or diving in Belize”.