Katter’s Australian Party says it is getting reports of major financial damage to the tourism sector in North Queensland following recent shark attacks in the region.
It wants the State Government to consider emergency funding and a boost to local tourism promotion in the North before the situation escalates and wipes out the coming summer holiday season.
The KAP says that if the shark attacks in the last week had occurred on the Gold or Sunshine coasts, the State Government would be falling over itself to provide additional funding.
KAP State Leader and Member for Traeger, Robbie Katter, says week old-media coverage of the shark attacks had spread globally and tourism operators were feeling the impact.
“We are starting to see reports that yacht charter and dive operators are seeing a major drop in forward bookings directly as a result of the shark attack coverage,” Mr Katter said.
“If that flows through to other tourism sectors, that means the loss of big dollars in the North as they head into one of their important tourism periods.”
Mr Katter said the two attacks followed by coverage of large sharks being captured and killed had damaged the reputation of the Whitsundays and it was time the Government stepped in and assisted.
“We want some Government funding to tell tourists that all is well in the North and that it is still the best place in the world for a holiday.”
Mr Katter said that in addition to tourism promotion, the Government had to realise that a change in policy is needed now more than ever in the North to combat the threat of sharks and crocodiles.
“The sharks are a problem, but the North also faces the menace of another apex predator being the crocs,” he said.
“The croc numbers have exploded in recent years and if they attack, the statistics are there to show a high risk of fatality.
“You don’t get the crocs down south, so the North has a special case for a change in law and the KAP’s Croc Bill will create an appropriate regulatory framework for a responsible cull of crocs in the North.
“This will not only make it safer for people taking advantage of North Queensland’s natural assets, it will protect the tourism industry and create new industries for First Australians.
“Labor and the LNP must support the KAP’s Bill or risk further alienating North Queenslanders.”