Renowned ocean advocate Jean-Michel Cousteau is leading a new state campaign to encourage American families to explore the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef.

Jean-Michel Cousteau, celebrated environmentalist and film producer, has explored the world’s oceans for more than five decades and is now placing his focus on the Great Barrier Reef.

In a partnership with Tourism and Events Queensland, Tourism Tropical North Queensland and Air New Zealand, Cousteau will endorse a series of the sunshine state’s itineraries in the US.

Tourism Minister Jann Stuckey says the campaign is a testament to Queensland’s sustainable tourism practices and a unique opportunity to profile the Great Barrier Reef.

“In addition, Jean-Michel will travel to Cairns later this month to explore the destination and meet with Queensland tourism operators,” says Stuckey.

“Queensland tourism is now going from strength to strength after years of Labor neglect and this is yet another great opportunity to grow the industry as we promised at the election.”

Tourism Tropical North Queensland CEO Alex de Waal says the region is the first destination to be profiled as part of Cousteau’s Ocean Away Vacations series, closely aligned with the Ocean Futures Society mission.

Cousteau has served as diplomat for the Ocean Futures Society, reaching out to the public through a variety of media.

Cousteau says he is looking forward to his time in Cairns this month, hoping he could inspire tourists to learn about the natural and cultural beauty of Queensland.

“We have to continue to look for creative ways to join forces with tourism and conservation in turning the tide, making a difference, expanding our efforts and protecting the quality of life on our blue planet,” he says.

Cousteau’s campaign will include scenic flights over the Great Barrier Reef, diving expeditions and rainforest experiences. Through print and digital publicity, the campaign hopes to keep Queensland top of mind amongst North Americans.

Stuckey continues to say the campaign is part of the government’s 20-year plan for state tourism.

“North America is an important international market for Queensland, with the state welcoming 205,000 visitors in the year to March 2014, who spent $375 million on their trips,” says Stuckey.

“Our goal is to double annual overnight visitor expenditure from $15 billion to $30 billion by 2020 and innovative partnerships such as this will assist in growing Queensland’s inbound visitor market.”