WITH an increase in visitor numbers and revenue, Phillip Island Nature Parks (PINP) had a record-breaking year, as revealed in the organisation’s 2012-13 Annual Report. Recently tabled in State Parliament, the Annual Report showcases significant environmental and ecotourism achievements for the not-for-profit, self-funded organisation, which manages over 1805 hectares of Crown Land on Phillip Island and uses surplus funds generated from ecotourism to fund its conservation activities. “This was an outstanding year for the Nature Parks, with many highlights and positive outcomes for the natural environment, wildlife and local community,” PINP CEO, Matthew Jackson, said. “Despite a challenging tourism market, I am very proud to report a 7.3 per cent increase in visitor numbers with a record total of 1,177,131.” “We sold a total of 98,215 ‘Three Parks Pass’ tickets – a 13.4 per cent increase on the previous year. “This pass benefits the local community and increases visitor length of stay on Phillip Island.”
Mr Jackson attributed the results to a focus on cost management and innovative marketing driving visitation within both international (54 per cent visitation) and domestic (46 per cent visitation) markets. PINP Board Chair, Jeff Floyd, said: “I am pleased to report the achievement of a sound operating surplus of $1.4 million, a 9.3 per cent increase in revenue and a 1.3 per cent increase in overall yield.” “For the coming year, the board has set aside funds for any future additional superannuation liabilities, capital works and tourism product development programs to generate new revenue streams. The maintenance of key assets will continue as a priority focus,” Mr Floyd said.
Penguin numbers up
The positive tourism results enabled PINP to invest over $3.2 million towards environmental, scientific research and education initiatives across Phillip Island, including the world-leading little penguin research program, now in its 45th year. Little penguins were again winners with the average number of penguins at the nightly Penguin Parade being the highest since counts began in 1977, and considerably above the long-term average. A total of 144 little penguins and 280 other wildlife were admitted to PINP’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. A 24-hour, seven day a week wildlife rescue service was made possible with the help of community volunteers. PINP also strengthened its commitment to its award winning island-wide fox eradication program with a further five year strategy developed. The Summerland Peninsula restoration program was completed this year. This program was implemented once the housing buy-back was completed in 2010. During the year, the project involved over 4,000 hours of weed control, putting over 30,000 plants in the ground and the installation of 327 artificial penguin homes.
This crucial project was funded by the State Government and further enhances the protection of the penguin colony for future generations. The Annual Report also details exciting future directions for the organisation with the launch of its Environment Plan 2012-2017 and completion of the Summerland Peninsula Master Plan. Both plans involved community and stakeholder engagement. During the year the Nature Parks completed a Business Case for future investment in the Summerland Peninsula in line with the Master Plan outcomes. The Business Case details stage one of a 20-year vision, including the proposed building of a new Penguin Parade Visitor Centre and the reinstatement of an estimated 8.2 hectares of critical penguin habitat.
Committed to community
The Annual Report 2012-13 also demonstrates PINP’s commitment to the local community. Phillip Island was declared Victoria’s first National Surfing Reserve in March. In partnership with PINP, a community working group was established to achieve this milestone. Other community achievements include the launch of PINP’s Reconciliation Action Plan, the third annual Community Open Day and supporting and hosting the inaugural Biyadin Shearwater Indigenous Festival. “It has been an outstanding year and I would personally like to thank everyone for striving towards a future where Phillip Island and its unique ecosystems are restored and protected for future generations through world-class management of biodiversity and natural asset protection,” Mr Jackson said.