PROMISING NEW DIRECTIONS FOR ISLAND TOURISM
Some promising new directions are emerging for tourism on our Bay Islands.
Whilst tourism is well established on our near neighbours North Stradbroke and Coochiemudlo, it has not been the case for the Southern Moreton Bay Islands.
The advent of Translink mid last year, which came with free inter-island ferry transport, was the game changer.
More people are starting to come here and business, and those in authority, have recognised the potential that is to come.
Some recent events have added to the anticipation.
The establishment of a tourism body as a sub-committee of the Bay Islands Chamber of Commerce, is a promising start.
So too is the launch of a new business on Russell Island, Mud Crab Rentals, who are bringing hire cars to the islands as well as the likelihood of hire bikes and kayak hire on Russell.
There are hire bikes also available on Macleay Island, but they need to be more accessible.
The new sports facilities on Russell Island are starting to show considerable potential to attract people here, particularly with the advent of the Russell Island Stingrays Junior Rugby League teams in a wider competition that brings around 160 people to that island every second week (see Time and Tide below)
Clearly a wider involvement in sport offers huge potential to attract visitation.
Many also come to visit family and friends, particularly at holiday time.
However, it is one thing to want to achieve visitation, but it is another to have the structures in place to accommodate them.
There is no use visitors arriving if there is no way to move them around the islands economically and efficiently, entertain them, to feed them and accommodate them.
The first goals of those who see tourism as a business potential is to firstly have a system to get them places.
Some areas to improve are:
• There are taxi services, but these can be expensive. A bus service or a private tour bus would be an answer (club buses could also fulfil this role).
• Bikes for hire need to be readily accessible and identifiable at our ferry terminals.
• Tourism destinations via scenic, walking and accommodation need to be clearly identified.
• There is no use living on an island if there is no place for visiting craft to tie up and disembark, without having to leave in a few minutes.
There are answers to all the above, and they will be resolved in time.
There are many other things to be done, and fortunately some positive steps are now being taken to address many of these issues, and these directions deserve to be encouraged.