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Too much love for the Whitsundays?

By Mark Beale

As more tourists flood the Whitsundays every year, many are asking whether we’re allowing our iconic sites to be loved to death.

Whitsunday Industry Charter Boat Association spokesperson Peter Claxton said visitors were already having to queue to get onto the Hill Inlet lookout.

“And by the time people get to that point they’re so over waiting in the sun and in our hot, humid weather they just take a photo and move on or walk away,” he said.

Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen said the region saw an average of 2500 visitors a day.

“What we don’t want to see happen is for the area to lose its appeal over time because of an unregulated increase in vessels operating in the region and over-crowding on prime tourist experiences, such as a visit to Whitehaven Beach,” he said.

Explore Whitsundays’ Al Grundy said the problem was already boiling just under the surface, with a large number of currently-latent permits threatening to push it over the edge.

“We’re really worried that if a lot more of those permits

get activated we’ll have a serious crowding problem,” he said.

Calling for no more permits to be handed out, Mr Claxton said “the carpark is full”.

Mr Christensen said the latent permits could see “another 200 extra vessels operating, and as many as four million visitors flooding into the Whitsundays”.

Mr Claxton called for an impartial study to be conducted in the Whitsundays to “say this bay can only take this number of people per day from an impact point of view”.

Mr Grundy said taking action was of particular importance in our region.

“What’s happened is, to a degree, it’s snuck up on us,” he said. “We carry as many visitors into the marine park as Cairns does (and) our challenge is that the Whitsunday area is only 1% of the total space of the park.”

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