Conservation Group, Sea Shepherd, has said there is no evidence to suggest that shark attacks on the North Coast have had a negative impact on tourism.
National Shark Campaign Coordinator, Natalie Banks, said a recent report from the Australian Lifeguard Service reveals an increase in visitor numbers to local beaches.
There have been a number of shark attacks in the region this year including a fatality at Ballina in February.
Ms Banks said it is misleading to say that shark encounters impacts on tourism numbers and expenditure.
“We cannot see from anywhere where there has been a hundred percent evidence to show, even the Australian Lifeguard Service said in the last financial year 225,000 more people visited beaches in Byron Bay to Richmond and the Ballina Chamber of Commerce has just done a survey that shows that over 85 per cent of local businesses have not been impacted by sharks,” she said.
“Basically we’d like to see a stop to claims that shark activity is impacting tourism, it’s just not a hundred percent credible in terms of that, so we’ve got to stop blaming the sharks on these things.”
“Definitely, in 12 months after a shark encounter there is an increase in beach attendance by either domestic or international travel,” she said.
Club Captain of the Lennox Head Surf Life Saving Club and president of the local Chamber of Commerce Neil Kennedy, backs up this report. He recently commented that despite all the recent hype about sharks, the school holiday season has still been very busy.
“Winter is traditionally a slow period for us and we haven’t noticed any particular additional slowness because of the situation,” he said.
“The caravan parks are full, what we definitely don’t want is a perception that people shouldn’t come here because of danger.
“The community is very well catered for here; the community is doing its best to look after the place and in general our main street businesses are looking forward to having another bumper summer.”
Sea Shepherd said it will use the evidence in its submission to a state parliamentary inquiry into the management of sharks to disprove the theory that a shark meshing program would protect tourism.