Magnetic Island North Queensland
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A young koala's beach adventure

September 2nd 2004
Tourists want Magnetic as it is

Visitors enjoy Arthur Bay "Keep it as it is" and "not to over develop it and let it become spoilt" was the most common answer to the question on suggested improvements to the island in the just released Magnetic Island 2004 Visitor Survey.

This opinion which directly engages the present development debate on Magnetic Island was initiated by the MI Community Development Association as a follow on from a survey which was initially undertaken in July 2002 by the Research Department of Tourism Queensland.

According to the survey, 43 per cent of all those surveyed made some type of comment about controlling development and leaving the Island as it is and this opinion strongly reinforced the similar views found in Tourism Queensland's findings from 2002. The next nearest issue of comment was from 28 per cent who sought better access to bays and 27 per cent who wanted improved walkways and footpaths.

Community Development Association President, Lorna Hempstead told Magnetic Times, "Every marketing book will tell you that it is much more important to keep hold of the customers you already have rather than having to go out and find a whole set of new ones. If a new developer wants however to develop a new market then I think they should" she added.

The survey was supervised and compiled by Wendy Mitchelmore from the UK who is specialising in tourism research at the University of Chester. The Community Development Association was permitted by Tourism Queensland to use their survey instrument to enable direct comparisons to be made over the two years.

The overall outcome of the research is to help guide the development of Magnetic Island. With specific aims of:

Highlighting changes in the markets by profiling visitors in terms of demographics and travel behaviour

Measure visitor satisfaction and appeal of Magnetic Island

Compare satisfaction levels with previous results to judge what level of improvement has been made

The questionnaire included questions on purpose and length of visit, appeals, suggested improvements, satisfaction levels and demographics. 352 interviews were conducted during May 2004.

Some of the key findings and comparisons were:

Visitor details

Of those interviewed 26% were from Queensland (10% of those being from Townsville), 37% were from interstate Australia and 1% from New Zealand. 37% were from overseas. This is compared to the 39% from overseas, 42% from interstate and 18% from Queensland recorded in the previous survey
Just over half of respondents were female (54%), the same percentage as in the previous survey.

Similar proportions of age ranges were interviewed, excluding 75+ and under 18''s of whom were fewer. This is again similar to the relatively even proportioned respondents from the previous survey

Young singles living at home or in shared accommodation and retired singles/couples represent over half the respondents with 26% and 29% respectively. Parents represent 14% with older working singles/couples being the next largest group representing 13%. 30% of respondents previously were retired singles/couples with 23% being young singles.

The majority of visitors to the island have a household income (before tax) of between under $20,000 and $40,000-$60,000 (69%). Only 8% of visitors have an income greater than $100,00

Details of the visit

More than half of respondents were first time visitors to the island (62%)(an increase from 59%). 15% say they had visited just once or twice before and another 16% had visited 6 or more times. Of those respondents visiting more than 6 times, some had visited more than 100 times, while approximately 5 people said they had visited about 20 times.

When asked how many nights they planned to stay on the island, a large number of visitors were just on day trips (36%). Of those people staying over night, respondents were evenly distributed over the 1-2 night, 3-4 nights, 5-7 night and 10+ night stays with 16%, 17%, 14% and 13% respectively. Those staying for 8-10 nights accounted for the final 4%.

When asked if they planned to spend a night staying in Townsville over half of respondents (56%) said yes they had, or planned to spend a night there. Another 10% were Townsville. 32% of respondents said no they would not be spending any nights in Townsville, with the other 2 % unsure.

Of the 56% of respondents staying in Townsville, 45% were staying for 1-2 nights, 29% 3-4 nights, 16% 5-7 nights, 2% 8-10 nights and 8% staying 10 nights or more.

85% of respondents stated that the main purpose of their visit was for Holiday/Leisure. This is compared to 93% previously.

87% of visitors asked were travelling without children. The largest type of travel party sampled was adult couples (40%), friends/relatives travelling without children and visitors travelling alone score very similar (22% and 20%). Those travelling with children represented 13% (Note the survey was conduced in a period of Australian School terms in all States & Territories)

Nearly all visitors had previous knowledge of Magnetic Island before arriving in the region (90%). A large number of respondents (31%) found out about the island through word of mouth, with other similar size groups knowing about the island from previous visitation or other. The ''other'' was largely though the Lonely Planet guide book, or Australians having general knowledge and being familiar with the island.
Of those visitors staying overnight on Magnetic Island, 40% were using backpacker or youth hostel style accommodation, 26% were staying in rented properties. 13% were staying at a friends or relatives property.

The largest proportion of bookings was made directly with the accommodation. 19% of bookings for overnight stays were done through a travel agent on the mainland, and 2 % through island travel agents. 8% were booked at previous accommodation, 7% of bookings were done using the Internet.

Large proportions of respondents had or intended to visit Cairns, the Whitsundays and Mission Beach -- similar response rates to the previous survey.

Visiting Horseshoe Bay, visiting and swimming at the beach, visiting Picnic and Nelly Bays and Arcadia and visiting a caf

Tourists want Magnetic as it is
francoise schaefer
September 4th 2004
I can only agree. Keep Magnetic the way it is, quiet and peaceful...and yes, walkways are badly needed on roadside! But I will keep coming back even without the walkways.
Holly McDonald
September 7th 2004
My partner and I had a visit to MI,it was our first visit to the island. We stayed for 2weeks and had the best time of our lives. We found MI to be 1 of the most beautiful places on earth as we are avid travlers. We vowed to come back, although it will have changed by then. With all the new developments going up everywhere, we were hurt to see just how many there were. We fell in love with not only the scenery around and on MI, but we also fell in love with the abundance of wildlife that surrounds this beatiful place. If new devlopments are put up everywhere we feel it will have an economic impact on the wilderness as I'm sure those who have visited and who live on the Island will agree. We think Magnetic Island should be kept as is and left alone, we just keep thinking how all this is going to change the Island and also change the community,
September 17th 2004
The Island is fine the way it is. Boosting tourism isn't the main objective of what should be done on Maggie. Start making things for children to do, teenagers alike. This has always been a problem so look after Islanders first though I understandthat tourism supports a lot of the economy on Magnetic Island. I'm not suggesting that we dont put all our thoughts into that primarily but to see something, anything about the benefits of helping Island children would be great. (I'm in England at the moment but grew up on the Island. Just a quick favour: if you know my father Tony Parkin tell him I said g'day and weather here is great!!!)
Warren Cross
September 17th 2004
We came to maggie this year for the 7th year in a row. We felt the island has changed. the friendliness was not there among shopkeepers. We hired a DVD that was broken, no offer of a refund, just a complaint about how much they cost to replace. There were a lot of other examples of people being stressed out and(understandably I suppose) taking it out on their customers. It's not the locals fault, the developers have moved in, but beware . Unless you fight like they did in Byron, it will be a case of "remember how great Maggie used to be". Townsville Council needs to realise that no one rings a bell when an area is changing for the worse. We will not be coming next year. I hope there a lot of new tourists to replace loyal customers like us. We will be back, but not till some sanity prevails.As someone who owns real estate on the island, I would still rather have the island the way it was, than see it wrecked so some developers can make a quick buck and then move on to their next payday, leaving the locals to pick up the pieces. (Abridged Ed.)
Susan & Greg, USA
June 9th 2005
Our first experience on your island was getting married there in 2004 --- we could tell that the developers are swooping in, but everyone was very friendly and we had the time of our lives. We hope Maggie isn't lost in a see of condos and resorts as we've vowed to return one day and have a little home on Maggie....just praying that there's room for us!

What do you think? Send us your comments.

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