Opinion: Shark attacks hit tourism hard

THIS summer is going to be crucial for many businesses, particularly tourism operators, who have been directly impacted by this year's spate of shark attacks.

It seems the attacks and frequent shark sightings have scared away a lot of tourists.

North Coast Destination Network executive officer Belinda Novicky has told a NSW parliamentary inquiry there had been median losses of $25,000 in a survey of 89 of the region's hotel and tourism operators.

Of the 33% of operators who described an impact there had been a 33% increase in beach safety inquiries from visitors already on holidays.

One-fifth had direct booking cancellations and 38% responded to "other" impacts, including group booking and cancellations to surf schools.

The council-owned Flat Rock tent park was at 33% capacity during the last weekend of August whereas it had operated with a 65% occupancy rate in 2014 and 82% in 2013.

The deployment of shark deterrents this summer has become more crucial.

Increased aerial patrols and the potential of shark barriers to be installed at local beaches should increase confidence that the Far North Coast is a safe place to swim.

But time is of the essence.

If the measures are not in place in a big hurry bookings could be down again.

The Star will stay on top of this story and try to bring you updates about how our tourism and accommodation providers are going throughout the upcoming school holidays.

Tourism is a major driver of the Far North Coast economy and needs our support.



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