Our beaches are safe
THE Gympie region's tourism boss yesterday dismissed Climate Council claims that global warming and rising sea levels could damage the tourism industry of coastal communities like Rainbow Beach.
Destination Gympie's tourism manager, Andrew Saunders, said the Cooloola Coast had experienced record numbers of visitors in recent months, and he was not concerned about a drop in visitor numbers in the future.
On the Sunshine Coast rising sea levels are today tipped to bring a $56 million hit to tourism.
The Climate Council's Icons at Risk: Climate Change Threatening Australian Tourism report shows Australia's top five natural tourist attractions could be hit by extreme heatwaves, increasing temperatures, rising sea levels, coastal flooding and catastrophic coral bleaching.
Climate Councillor and ecologist Professor Lesley Hughes said Australia's iconic beaches, wilderness areas, national parks and the Great Barrier Reef were the most vulnerable hotspots, while our unique native wildlife was also at risk, as climate change accelerates.
"Tourists travel across the globe to see Queensland's remarkable natural wonders. But these native icons are in the climate firing line as extreme weather events worsen and sea levels continue to rise,” she said.
The Climate Council report said 17-23 per cent of surveyed tourists would respond to beach damage scenarios by switching holiday destinations, with an estimated $56 million dollars lost per year from the Sunshine Coast.
Mr Saunders indicated there was no local concern over climate change and said it was the responsibility of local organisations to protect the region's natural tourism assets.
"The tourism industry itself has a role to play in the environment,” he said. "Destination Gympie and the Gympie Regional Council have a role to play in getting tourists here by ensuring that it is a measured approach by promoting the region in low (off-peak) times.
"We don't want to ruin an asset,” he said.
Queensland Tourism Industry Council boss Daniel Gschwind agreed and said "Our tourism operators work as guardians of our natural environment, it's important that the community gets behind their efforts to protect and preserve Queensland's famous natural icons.”