Tourism Fraser Coast chair angry about new whale watch rules
The chairman of Tourism Fraser Coast has joined the Hervey Bay tourism sector in condemning State Government changes to whale watching.
David Hay said under the new legislation, whale watch operators on the Gold Coast were now able to conduct commercial tours within state waters without having to pay any initial or ongoing fees.
This was drastically different to Hervey Bay and Moreton Bay whale watch operators who would be required to continue paying annual fees to have the privilege of observing the same humpback whales, he said.
"The recent changes made by the State Government surrounding this legislation are not only environmentally inconsiderate but, from a commercial perspective, they are extremely unfair" Mr Hay said.
"It is astounding that Gold Coast operators are able to access humpback whales without any permits or the need to pay fees, whereas Hervey Bay and Moreton Bay operators will be required to pay significant dollars to access the same whales.
"It simply does not make any sense.
"We are aware that the government believes the fees are justified as the Hervey Bay whale watch operators conduct tours in a marine park, however it is simply a further disadvantage to our operators who have invested millions of dollars in their businesses.
"It is disappointing that the changes the government have implemented will further disadvantage the local whale watching industry which has struggled in recent years due to the downturn in overall visitation to the region."
Tourism Fraser Coast said it had met with all Hervey Bay whale watch operators and would be pursuing an outcome that was fair and equitable for all.