Eco-tourism industry gathers local support

Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto at Little Crystal Creek at Paluma

HUNDREDS of Hinchinbrook locals have given their enthusiastic support for an eco-tourism industry in the region in a petition tabled to parliament this week.

Sponsored by Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto, the petition called on the House to “support eco-tourism development within the Hinchinbrook electorate, including sustainable development of national parks, and acknowledge the benefits of such investment in bringing jobs to rural and regional Queensland”.

Mr Dametto said the petition, which gathered a combined 259 signatures in its paper and online forms, proved there was a strong appetite in the local community to “grow this exciting industry”.

“Eco-tourism is the sleeping giant of Hinchinbrook that is ready to be awakened,” he said.

“Local businesses will be well placed to be part of a once in a lifetime opportunity in developing an eco-tourism experience on the Thorsborne Trail, through which the State Government is working with prospective private operators to deliver.

“Towns like Cardwell, Lucinda and Ingham would benefit immensely from this sort of industry, where economies are otherwise stagnant. Diversification is a buzz word that usually gets thrown around a lot but we can’t just rely on agriculture, we need those supporting industries and eco-tourism is the real deal.”

The petition has been since referred to Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones for a formal response by no later than June 17.
Mr Dametto said eco-tourism could help unlock Hinchinbrook’s full potential.

“There’s no reason why we can’t be the world’s next must-see adventure tourism destination,” he said.

“However, from my experience in running a water-based tourism business the key to success is all tidal access. This would need to be restored to Dungeness and Cardwell. You can’t run a business waiting on the tide.

“I have also echoed Hinchinbrook Shire Mayor Ramon Jayo’s call to the State Government to add Wallaman Falls to the list of potential National Park sites that could be commercialised to add to the visitor experience.

“Worldwide there is growing demand for new, unique and low-impact eco-tourism products. Tasmania has led the way in Australia, allowing provisions for the building of facilities in national parks that enhance the tourism product. This has been instrumental in attracting more domestic and international visitors and has turned their economy around.

“I believe we can strike the right balance here between management of national park values and visitor attraction. The Thorsborne Trail is already one of the top 10 multi-day hikes in the world and a low-impact, sustainable eco-tourism experience would only enhance this.”

Nick Dametto MP