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August 13th 2010
Jewel in the Crown Needs Polishing

Magnetic Island may be the ‘jewel on the crown’ for tourists visiting the region, but many visitors miss out on the natural resources that the island has to offer, according to the chair of the local tourism group.

In a press release to Magnetic Times it was announced that, TOBMI (Tourist Operators & Businesses Magnetic Island), the LTO for Tourism Queensland, is hosting a panel on sustainable tourism this Sunday August 15 which will offer major stakeholders in the island – GRMPA, TCC, Solar City, Parks & Wildlife, Dry Tropics as well the island community, a chance to put their heads together to work out a sustainable future for tourism on the island.

Chair of TOBMI, Dr Lindsay Simpson, said it was time to have a more unified approach to promoting and looking after the island’s natural assets.

She said she was delighted at the positive response from the groups that had been invited to take part in the panel.
“After five years living on the island, I feel there is often a fragmented approach to its management. Yet, we have a wealth of experienced people at our fingertips – all of whom want to conserve the island’s natural and cultural heritage,” she said. “Let’s get everyone around the same table.”

Simpson, the author of Australian Geographic Guide to Tasmania, said the island needed better lobbying power for more resources and a more coherent approach to its promotion.

“In Tasmania, the slogan on the car registration plates was: ‘Discover your natural state’. Our island has got so much to offer which is not promoted. We tend to equate more visitors with more problems. Two thirds of the island is national park, yet much of it is inaccessible.

“More tourists need not mean an increase in pollution or violation of the island. What’s needed is long term planning, and committing more resources to managing the island and its surrounding World Heritage listed Marine Park so that everyone has the opportunity to experience it.”

Simpson said that TOBMI had discussed the possibility of an interpretation centre that could house all of those experiences under one roof as well as including the island’s historical and maritime heritage.

“Essentially, this would be a first stop for all visitors to the island where we could educate tourists to think sustainably in a pro-active and interactive way,” she said.

“Opening up more walkways and getting the State & Federal governments to see this national treasure is on their doorstep can only help us move in the right direction.”

TOBMI was formed last November by a local group of business professionals committed to representing tourism and business operators on the island.

The panel, which is open to TOBMI members, and which invites non-member to join on the night, will be held on Sunday August 15, 5-7pm at Peppers Blue On Blue in the Indigo room. For those who wish to network after the event, $15 canapes and a beverage are available. For more information contact TOBMI Secretary: Alli Angus at or by calling 07 4758 1173.
To add your comment,
or read those of others, see below

Jewel in the Crown Needs Polishing
August 13th 2010
Has "sustainable" replaced "eco" and "eco-friendly" as the new tourism buzz words?
Wendy Tubman
August 13th 2010
Unfortunately, an unchangeable prior engagement will prevent me from attending most or all of this meeting. However, I hope that there will be discussion of the difference between 'sustainable tourism' and 'tourism in an environmentally sensitive environment', which I think (and hope) is the aim of the organisers.

While theoretically "More tourists need not mean an increase in pollution or violation of the island", all too often this is exactly what it does mean in locations around the world, unless the behaviour of visitors, and by implication of residents, (such as, controls on building styles, on use of plastic bags, on noise levels and on vehicle type and access) is strictly controlled - something that our current political system finds hard to accept.

With 25 km of walking tracks, none of which is exactly crowded at any time of the day or year, I doubt there is a need for additional walkways, with the inevitable influx and spread of weeds and litter that this creates. And unless there were a concomitant increase in QPWS personnel, maintenance would be a major problem. (Unlike the coalition candidate for Herbert, I am not convinced that track maintenance can be left to teams of untrained and inexperienced young Australians.)

That said, I have long thought that an interpretation centre along the lines of that which I visited on Lord Howe Island some years ago, would be a great asset. It would offer people a detailed understanding and appreciation of the island and its extraordinary environment without them having to delve into every nook and cranny, something that many would be unable or not keen to do.

It would be wonderful to establish the Island as the world's best example of how resident populations can live without causing damage to the natural environment. That would be likely to attract visitors, and the type of visitors we want - but, of course, Magnetic Island is not just a tourist destination and the great majority of residents are not dependent on that industry. If we are to promote that industry, it is essential that we adapt it to the environment rather than adapt the environment to the tourists. After all, Magnetic Island is World Heritage and governments at all levels, and particularly people living and working here, have an international obligation to protect it from damage.

Good luck with the meeting; I hope it goes well and look forward to reading a report on the outcomes.
Lindsay Simpson
August 17th 2010
Thanks Wendy. Some good points. I do agree with you that an interpretation centre will help attract the right kind of tourist and act as an educative tool for visitors to the island.
The meeting on Sunday went extremely well. There seems to be a lot of enthusiasm about getting together to tackle the issue of ensuring we do adapt tourism to the environment and we had some excellent speakers who were able to speak to that point.
TOBMI hopes to convene an inaugural group from this panel who can make some meaningful contributions to tackling a sustainable future.
We will be compiling a report from the meeting.

What do you think? Send us your comments.

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