March 21st 2011
Full moon vandals irk local business body
Last Saturday night, following the Full Moon Party at Base Backpackers in Nelly Bay, a gang plank for the ferry was thrown into Nelly Bay Harbour which prompted Island salvage operator, Mr Peter Illidge from Oceania Maritime, to observe that, as the gangplank landed on the floor of the harbour in an upright position, it could well have punctured the hull of the ferry as it attempted to dock. Along with a number of acts of presumably alcohol/drug-fuelled stupidiy, the incident has led Dr Lindsay Simpson, President of the Tourism Operators and Businesses Magnetic Island (TOBMI) to claim that, “No tourism benefits flow from this event” and that, “It’s time something was done about it.”
The full moon party attracted about 1150 party goers according to MI Police Sergeant, Kerry Kraut who told Magnetic Times, “To be honest, patrons on the night were well behaved. We spoke to some people but there was nothing that warranted us to take action.”
Dr Simpson said the dinghy from Providence V, the tallship she operates with her husband Grant Lewis, was stolen with a full tank of fuel and taken across to Townsville where it was found washed up in the Strand full of beer cans and water.
“We were going out on our first charter for weeks following bad weather and thought we had to cancel,” she said.
She said tourist businesses were finding it difficult to get back on their feet following the floods and Cyclone Yasi.
The vandals also smashed signs at Peppers and threw weekend newspapers, yet to be delivered, outside the terminal.
MI Police were however following up on the vandalism at the harbour and are awaiting CCT footage which may help identify the perpetrators.
Dr Simpson said the vandalism was directly associated with the Full Moon event held on the island.
However when Base’s General Manager, Ms Aimee Jones, was contacted for a response to Dr Simpson’s comments she said, “This is very disappointing as I have not been approached by Dr Simpson with regards to the concerns of the organisation she represents.
While making little mention of the vandalism Ms Jones was quick to defend Base on economic grounds claiming, that the domestic and international youth and adventure market Base targets, accounted for 22% of all visitor nights in Queensland to the year ended September 2010 and spends, on average, $76 per day but less than a third is on accommodation with majority on food, beverage, activities & transport.
Dr Simpson said, "Almost every time this event is held there is damage done as the revelers walk from the ferry terminal at Nelly Bay to Base Backpackers where the event is held. At the Nelly Bay Harbour marina goods are stolen almost every Full Moon party. Locals have come to expect to wake up and find stuff stolen," she said.
"No tourism benefits flow from this event. Mostly the participants are inebriated before they arrive. They continue to drink on the ferry from Townsville because of the cost of the liquor at the event. They don't buy any goods locally. They often sleep on the beach. Police also attend the event - which is all taxpayers money. It is of no benefit to the community," she said. “It is time something was done about it.”
Ms Jones told Magnetic Times, “We employ people from the island & we support local businesses but we can not support everyone.
“Bus services are subsidised for the duration of the event which is paid for by the event & provided by Magnetic Island bus services. The police on duty are paid for by the event & are often called away for unrelated events at the cost of the event, not taxpayer. We have local food vendors who sell food at the events & support the hardware, foodworks, etc.
“Island activities are at the forefront of what we are about as one extra activity a day means one night longer they (stay) with us. That could be horse riding, car rental, bike rental or a Koala Cuddle over at Bungalow bay.
“Base as a company believe that we are part of the community & things are pretty tough at the moment. Tourism enterprises across the state are struggling to survive & we are feeling the pain so to hear we are not contributing to tourism or economic sustainability on the island is extremely disappointing.
“We have been hit by Yasi as most of you will know & the vast majority of those repair costs thus far have been spent with island businesses.
“We would like to see fewer traveller across Cleveland bay on the night of the event or more staying on the island after the event & heading off a few days later.
“Our aim is to create length of stay on the island and this is one tool we believe can achieve it. Other tourism-orientated destinations do this quite well in creating a product that can be leveraged into longer stays or value added propositions for the guests.
“We would ask that before blanket judgements or accusations are made on us or our events that an approach is made to us first. We would love the support of Magnetic Island Tourism Operators & Businesses in developing a way to encourage this potential guest to stay longer on the island & spend more in destination, providing economic benefit to a wider cross section of the Magnetic Island community.”
Story: George Hirst
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