Oct 2, 2010

TOBMI Looks to Sustainable Tourism for Magnetic

Author: Claudia Gaber


















Pictured above the “Class of ‘47” from Richmond Hill State School at the R&R Bar for their reunion

17th August 2010 Vol 21 Issue 21

On Sunday evening members of Tourism Operators & Businesses Magnetic Island (TOBMI) held a panel discussion and social evening at Peppers Blue on Blue. About 25 members and interested people attended. Speakers for the night were Stephanie Hunt of Solar Cities, National Parks Ranger Jo Peterson, community member Libby Evans-Illidge, Douglas Hayward of Townsville City Council, Rachel Allan of NQ Dry Tropics and Vicki Bonanno from GBRMPA.

TOBMI chair Lindsay Simpson did a sterling job of keeping the crowded agenda on track, with every speaker giving their perspective on what sustainable tourism means and how their group would be involved, then answering questions afterwards.

The Solar Cities project, we were told by Stephanie Hunt, has involved many of the accommodation houses in lowering their energy use and also in asking visitors to participate. Ranger Jo reminded us that eco-tourism is a large part of our market. She also promised to look into the need for replacement of old interpretive signs on The Forts walk and possibly installing new signs in other areas. Rick Braley mentioned a need for some information for snorkelers and some in the room remembered that there had once been a plan drawn up for an interpretive snorkelling-trail for Picnic Bay, but it languishes un-funded.

Libby Evans-Illidge gave what she hoped would be a view representative of the general community, that we live on an island-paradise that has the advantages of suburban infrastructure and a nearby city. She believes it is most important to keep that balance, or even improve on it, and attract the right kind of tourists, who share our values. She told the audience that “we can’t rely on the National Parks service to look after everything,” because so much of the exceptional habitat is not in the parks, but in our backyards. The lowlands, where most of our property lies, are also where most of the rare and endangered species live.

Doug Hayward of Townsville City Council spoke of the “Triple Bottom Line” that includes economic, social and environmental sustainability. He vowed, “Everything we do is measured against this.”

The NQ Dry Tropics Region is group many residents might not have heard of. It is a community based, not-for-profit Company that delivers land and water management activities and works to enhance the community’s involvement in those issues. Rachel Allan said they work a lot with agricultural industry, coast-care groups, sustainable housing and Healthy Habitats (on private lands) but, “tourism is an area we haven’t got into much,” although she thought it was a good idea look into environmentally focused tourism.

Lastly, Vicki Bonanno emphasised the importance of maintaining a high standard in our eco-tourism businesses. Those tourism operators who meet eco-tourism certification standards are afforded special recognition and are promoted on the GBRMPA website, which reaches potential customers around the world.

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