Shark Attacks Fail to Deter As Tourism Operators Report Strong Summer Season

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Tourist operators along the North Coast are reporting a strong summer holiday season, despite concerns shark attacks may have caused people to reconsider visiting the area.

The region was free of shark attacks over the summer holiday period, after a spate of attacks last year including at Port Macquarie in October and Ballina in November.

In August the NSW Government launched an inquiry into shark management in the state’s waters, including the impact of shark attacks on tourism and related industries.

Belinda Novicky from the North Coast Destination Network said the north coast business sector was surveyed when the inquiry was announced.

“Overall this summer, there hasn’t been a downturn and shark attacks did not impact visitation,” Ms Novicky said.

Results from the survey indicated 67% of tourism operators did not feel their businesses were affected by shark attacks or sightings.

But some businesses did feel an impact, with 33% reporting they had experienced decreased booking numbers, safety inquiries, cancellations and a downturn in surf-related accessory sales.

Ms Novicky said the impacted group largely comprised: “surf schools, and operators directly related to water-based activities and surfing retailers.”

Overall, she said visitor numbers had remained strong.

“The season has been really good over the Christmas and summer period,” she said.

Young Couples Now the Biggest Money Maker

Young couples overtook families as the number one group visiting the North Coast.

“It’s quite clear there’s been a shift in the type of demographic,” Ms Novicky said.

“When we break down the ages of the couples, the highest age group at the moment is between 15 and 25.”

She said tourism outlets were adapting to the change.

“I think being able to offer more adventure sports, nightlife activities and things like that is important,” she said.

“We know during the school holidays we’re still going to be a prime destination for families, but that increase in the couples market gives us an opportunity to grow visitation all year round.”

Source: ABC News

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