Sus­tain­able tourism?

Whitsunday Times - - YOUR SAY -

BE­FORE I start, I just need to say I am 100% be­hind tourism and hos­pi­tal­ity.

In the early 80s I was one of the first peo­ple to com­plete the Aus­tralian TAFE’s Tourism & Hos­pi­tal­ity cour­ses.

I re­turned the fol­low­ing two years to help TAFE Im­prove its T&H cour­ses and have worked in var­i­ous tourist venues across Aus­tralia and Queens­land.

Not long af­ter the course my best friend and I rented out jet-skis along Vesteys Beach (In Dar­win) and one of the first things we told our rid­ers was to go out far and for two rea­sons:

The first rea­son was safety; we never wanted a rider fall­ing off in shal­low water and hit­ting the bot­tom.

The sec­ond rea­son rea­son was con­sid­er­a­tion con­sid­er­a­tion of the marine life in shal­low water as well as con­sid­er­a­tion for the res­i­dents who live near the fore­shore.

The last thing we wanted to do was dis­turb ei­ther.

Here in the Whit­sun­days there used to be an un­der­stand­ing that ves­sels would not travel be­tween the Can­non­vale fore­shore and Pi­geon Is­land be­cause of the tur­tles and dugongs’ feed­ing ground to the east and of course its shal­low­ness.

But since the sink­ing of Whit­sun­day Magic near Can­non­vale fore­shore some newer com­mer­cial op­er­a­tors have thought it would be a good idea to visit this scrap heap on a daily ba­sis, not once or twice a day, but as many times as they can fit it in.

The prob­lems this has caused are not just to the marine habi­tat, 96% of the bird life that once lived on Pi­geon Is­land are now gone.

The amount of noise cre­ated by up to 12 jet skis vis­it­ing at once and sea planes fly­ing low, then the Jet Boat, the Aqua Duck and so on, day in day out, seven days a week, has man­aged to scare just about ev­ery bird from the is­land.

I have lived along Can­non­vale fore­shore for some decades and, for the most part, it has been awe­some.

How­ever, just in the past

three years we have watched the dugongs and dol­phins dis­ap­pear be­fore our eyes .

We used to see tur­tles feed­ing right up to the big boul­der just about ev­ery day to the east of the is­land – but we haven’t seen that for at least the past two years now.

Even worse, since Cy­clone Debbie has dec­i­mated the sea grass, th­ese com­mer­cial op­er­a­tors are not giv­ing this al­ready ven­er­a­ble area any chance of re­ju­ve­nat­ing which is detri­men­tal to the re­main­ing sea life.

Surely there are a lot of bet­ter things in the Whit­sun­days to take our vis­i­tors to see than this waste of space?

We should be ashamed to

show any of our vis­i­tors an eye­sore like this along a nat­u­ral fore­shore where dugongs and dol­phins used to fre­quently feed.

This is not sus­tain­able tourism in any sense of the word and the longer it con­tin­ues, the more marine life will be lost to this area.

— Mickey Rage


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