I would like to congratulate the Sentinel-Times for its article ‘Free and easy on Phillip Island’ (30/12/14, Sentinel-Times ‘Discover’ lift out, p8).
The article lists the top 10 tourist destinations on the island.
They all relate to activities that deliver peace and tranquillity – enhanced enjoyment of the natural assets at no cost.
There is no mention of events, penguins, dogs on beaches, the race track, car ferry, helicopters, new bridge, Port of Hastings, new hospital, new takeaways with huge amounts of packaging, or farmers remaining viable on 80 acres or more residential subdivisions.
The article values what is valuable.
It encourages visitors to spend longer on the island supporting small, local business.
It lists quality destinations that our visitors enjoy and can’t get enough of.
They are primarily family walks along the coast.
The last 30 years has seen a denial of the economic power and job creation of the natural attractions.
Somehow the tourism industry has become fixated on bricks and mortar and things that make noise.
There is no assessment of the negative impacts on the local economy with the introduction of every new ‘unnatural’ attraction.
It is my opinion that the biggest contributor to tourism on the island is the Conservation Society.
For decades, they have assessed all proposals and worked diligently to reduce the devastation of inappropriate tourism projects.
They have been very successful with a few projects slipping through the net.
It has taken Melbourne 188 years to reach a population of five million.
The next five million will settle in 30 years – what pressure will this place on the island?
To manage this growth, we must first identify why people come to the island.
Of the current four million annual visitors, one million go to the Penguin Parade and 300,000 go to the race track.
These numbers are unlikely to grow over the next three decades.
The beaches and natural assets are getting closer to Melbourne in both time and distance.
They currently attract 2.5 million annual visitors.
These numbers will grow rapidly, particularly in the form of holiday home visitors using their houses during the cold months.
Decision makers and managers must study the current numbers and develop long-term plans to preserve and enhance the assets that are so valuable.
The Sentinel-Times must be congratulated for its astute and well-researched list of attractions.
Let’s hope this brings a turning point in natural asset management.
The undisputed top of the list is Cape Woolamai walks.
Despite years of requests, there is no safe family path into this magnificent reserve.
Can we educate the dinosaurs in power?
Cr Phil Wright, Smiths Beach