Media Release – 25 June 2017

BRUNY ISLAND COMMUNITY GROUPS TO PULL OUT OF GOVERNMENT’S TOURISM PLANNING PROCESS

Community groups on Bruny Island have voted to withdraw from the Government’s tourism planning process. The Bruny Island Community Association (BICA) and the Bruny Island Environment Network (BIEN) have taken this stand because they say that the current tourism destination planning process does nothing to address the capacity of the Island and its people to cope with a massive increase in visitor numbers. Overseas and interstate visitors to the Island have increased by 75% over the last 2 years.

In a statement, both groups said that “The process currently in place will simply lead to ever more visitors and increasing pressure on the local community and the environment.”

According to the President of BICA, Fran Davis,
“This has placed enormous pressures on the limited community resources and the environment and we do not have the resources to manage the effects of the increases in visitor numbers. Meanwhile the Government and Council are focusing on infrastructure improvements such as a new ferry and road upgrades which will only increase the number of visitors.”

Community groups have participated in the planning process in the hope that capacity issues would be addressed as a high priority. The Destination Action Plan agreed to for Bruny had wide community involvement and support. The plan identified the key problem as:
“To ensure that visitation is matched by the capacity of the Island and its residents to cater for and accommodate the needs of visitors.”

Community groups participated in the process in the hope that this problem would be addressed as a high priority. They say that the problem has not been taken seriously by the Government and that the community has merely been used to provide legitimacy to the Destination Action Plan. “Questions such as the reliance on volunteers to provide emergency services, the impact of increased visitor numbers on wildlife, the failure of local government to enforce planning and building regulations and the lack of resources for Parks and Wildlife to manage natural areas remain unanswered”

According to the Convenor of BIEN, Bob Graham. “Although infrastructure is an important part of capacity building, it is far more important that tourism activity is managed to match the capacity of the Island and its residents to cope. Infrastructure is costly and often takes a long time to be provided. There are many simple and low cost things that can be done to increase capacity, but these are not on the agenda of the implementation group.”

BICA President, Fran Davis, said “we are not opposed to tourism, but unless we have the capacity to deal with the pressures it creates, community opposition will grow and the image of Bruny Island as tourist destination will be irreparably damaged.”

Community groups still insist that the key problem of capacity must be addressed. Ms. Davis and Mr Graham said “Remaining as part of a process that does not deal with the number 1 problem is not an option for us. We will continue to lobby and seek discussions with Government, Council and Industry to get concrete and effective action to build capacity to manage the pressures of increasing visitation.” They went on to say that; “It is time that Governments and industry realised and accepted that it is irresponsible and unfair to dump ever increasing numbers of visitors on a small community living in a fragile environment and then promote it as a tourist destination without addressing the capacity of the Island to cope with the demands and pressures created by visitors”

Fran Davis. President Bruny Island Community Association
62931129

Bob Graham, Convenor Bruny Island Environment Network
6293 2034

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