SNAP OUT OF IT

PHOTO FIN­ISH! Surf club Nip­pers call in po­lice to keep over-ea­ger tourists – and their cam­eras – at bay

The Gold Coast Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - KIRSTIN PAYNE

A GOLD Coast Nip­pers club says it’s fed up with over-ea­ger tour groups tak­ing snaps of them at train­ing and treat­ing them like “an­i­mals in a zoo”.

Po­lice have been called in to try to re­solve the sit­u­a­tion which has left young kids up­set and equip­ment dam­aged in the tourists’ quest for the quin­tes­sen­tial Gold Coast beach photo.

Par­ents of Kur­rawa Nip­pers claim the chil­dren aged 14 and un­der have had pho­tos taken by vis­i­tors from just me­tres away, some par­ents at times re­sort­ing to throw­ing wa­ter at them to stop.

“It is like a tour stop. We are not an­i­mals in a zoo,’’ said par­ent and coach Matt Si­mons.

A GOLD Coast nip­pers club has called in po­lice to keep overea­ger, snap-happy Asian tour groups at bay af­ter equip­ment dam­age and young kids get­ting up­set at train­ing.

Par­ents of Kur­rawa Nip­pers claim the chil­dren aged 14 and un­der have had pho­tos taken by vis­i­tors from me­tres away and they feel like “an­i­mals in a zoo”.

De­spite protests by par­ents and coaches – who at times have re­sorted to throw­ing wa­ter at them – tour groups con­tinue to turn up and take close-up pho­tos.

In some in­stances boards and other equip­ment have been dam­aged by tourists us­ing them to pose.

It has be­come such a prob­lem par­ents have now com­plained to the po­lice, but say they have been told noth­ing can be done.

A po­lice spokesman told the Bul­letin yes­ter­day they would work with the club: “Po­lice are work­ing with the com­mu­nity to try and re­solve any be­hav­iours with nip­pers in the area.

“The is­sue hasn’t been raised with me di­rectly but we’re happy to look at it and work with the club.”

Nip­pers par­ent Matt Si­mons, who also helps coach, said the prob­lem started at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son when tour guides be­gan park­ing buses near the beach dur­ing train­ing.

“I have asked the po­lice to do a roam­ing pa­trol but they say it is not an of­fence to take a pho­to­graph of a child in a pub­lic place,” Mr Si­mons said.

“These chil­dren are wear­ing swim­mers. It has been hap­pen­ing for six to eight months, the tour guides just sit up in their vans and read a book while these guys come down to the beach. It is like a tour stop, we are like an­i­mals in the zoo.

“The kids are sit­ting there go­ing ‘Simmo, that man is tak­ing a photo of me,” Mr Si­mons said.

“They pick up their boards and take pho­tos with them. There was a guy the other day, he was just a me­tre away. I could have pushed him over.

Mr Si­mons said he re­peat­edly asked the tourists to stop be­cause they were mak­ing the chil­dren un­com­fort­able, but they ig­nored his re­quests.

Mr Si­mons said he would like to see the tour groups park some­where else dur­ing the train­ing ses­sions to en­sure the kids did not be­come a fea­ture of the trip.

Nip­pers coach Nick Crilly said the prob­lem was pre­dom­i­nantly cre­ated by Asian tour groups which he be­lieved were from China and the club has had to re­place equip­ment due to dam­age caused by tourists sit­ting on it or pick­ing it up.

“I think it is a cul­ture dif­fer­ence, a lack of aware­ness around per­sonal space,” Mr Crilly said.

“I un­der­stand if you are from else­where that tak­ing pho­tos of club­bies train­ing can be ex­cit­ing but we need to draw a line when young kids are in­volved.

“Par­ents have spo­ken with po­lice and we have spo­ken to tour lead­ers but noth­ing seems to make a dif­fer­ence.

“We do recog­nise it isn’t our beach, we don’t own it but there needs to be re­spect for the equip­ment and per­sonal space.”

Des­ti­na­tion Gold Coast CEO An­naliese Bat­tista said she em­pathised with par­ents.

“Gold Coast’s coastal cul­ture is a strong draw­card for tourists. They are nat­u­rally cu­ri­ous about our fan­tas­tic life­style,” Ms Bat­tista said.

“How­ever, I com­pletely em­pathise with con­cerned par­ents who are pro­tect­ing their chil­dren’s pri­vacy. Tour op­er­a­tors need to be sen­si­tive to par­ents’ valid con­cerns and the com­mu­nity’s ex­pec­ta­tions.

“My sin­cere hope is com­mon sense should pre­vail in a sit­u­a­tion like this, with clubs and tour op­er­a­tors work­ing to­gether to dis­cour­age pho­to­graphs be­ing taken against par­ents’ wishes.”

Pic­ture: RICHARD MAMANDO

Matt Si­mons (back left), Mark Sloane and Justin Barnes with Kur­rawa Nip­pers Kaden Sloan, Bianca Ray­ward and Evie Perkins are sick of over-ea­ger tourists tak­ing pho­tos in their per­sonal space.

Pic­ture: RICHARD MAMANDO

Par­ents of chil­dren in­volved with Kur­rawa Nip­pers have com­plained to po­lice that tour groups are caus­ing a nui­sance by pho­tograph­ing their chil­dren and dam­ag­ing surf­ing equip­ment.

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