Don’t cap numbers in our Shire, thanks Noosa

Restricting numbers of visitors and campers to Teewah by 50 percent has been  proposed by the Teewah and Cooloola Working Group. Photo courtesy Luke Booth.

Restricting numbers of visitors and campers to Teewah by 50 percent has been proposed by the Teewah and Cooloola Working Group. Photo courtesy Luke Booth.

As reported in this paper on October 3, 2018, a group called the ‘Teewah and Cooloola Working Group’ was formed to evaluate the number of visitors accessing Teewah Beach with respect to beach driving and camping.

We were told the ‘working group’ was in place to assess ongoing impacts of visitors accessing Teewah Beach and the Cooloola Recreation Area, Great Sandy National Park and it was “simply an information sharing exercise at this stage”.

We have now been advised that the ‘group’ has unanimously endorsed the decision to cap the number of drivers allowed to access the beach via Noosa at 1150 permits – down from 2300 – therefore a reduction of 50 percent.

Furthermore, they have recommended reducing the maximum number of camping sites to 250 with a maximum size of 8 metres by 8 metres and with an increase in fees to cover the shortfall in the number of permits issued.

Alarmingly, it now appears this is no longer a ‘working group’ and without any consultation outside the group, a delegation led by Tony Wellington, Mayor of Noosa Council, met with Minister Enoch, the Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Minister for the Arts, and have formally submitted recommendations on behalf of the Noosa Gympie Region.

Just as disturbing, these recommendations may also be used in the review of the Great Sandy Management Plan.

Incredulously, the group has suggested that all future ticketing of the new system might be better handled by Tourism Noosa and Destination Gympie.

In 2018, the income from fees paid for driving and camping from Teewah to Inskip Point totalled $4,182,510.00.

The irony is that the Teewah camping zone starts from the Noosa Council boundary, and extends 15km up the beach, which means the entire camping zone is in the Cooloola Shire.

Any capping of camping and visitor numbers to the Cooloola Recreation Area, Great Sandy National Park will be at the expense of local business operators and is irresponsible and detrimental to all whose livelihood depends on tourist numbers.

In 2018 there were 240,000 vehicles, excluding locals, who used the Noosa Ferry to cross from the south to Teewah/Cooloola.

Member for Gympie and Shadow Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Forestry, Tony Perrett MP said:

“I share the concerns of local businesses and residents that suggestions about introducing a cap on tourist numbers will unfairly impact the Cooloola Coast. There should be no net loss of visitors or camping numbers. Decisions shouldn’t be made based on knee-jerk reactions to the irresponsible behaviour of a few undesirable campers.

“Abusing the privilege of accessing the beach should be adequately managed or monitored by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and the Queensland Police Service. It is important that a few complaints will not impose further restrictions on the families, tourists and locals who currently enjoy the region.

“The Coast is a desirable destination as a family-friendly, cheap, holiday destination for campers and beach enthusiasts. Changes cannot be dictated from Noosa, which has its own unique attraction which is very different to the Cooloola Coast.

“Camping and adventure-based tourism and all their associated activities are a primary source in the economy of the Cooloola Coast and especially Rainbow Beach. Proposals which have an adverse impact on people being able to access the area have to be rejected.

“It will have a significant effect on the economic viability of the area, which is already facing challenges from government imposed restrictions on the fishing industry.”