Shelly Beach, Ballina, from LookoutShelly Beach, Ballina, from Lookout. Photo: WikimediaInformation from the Australian Lifeguard Service and Surf Life Saving NSW regarding beach attendance, in addition to tourism information, has shown time and again, that shark encounters play no role in regards to visitor numbers to beaches or regions of New South Wales.

Natalie Banks, National Shark Campaign Coordinator states that data available from July 2009 onwards points to at least 13 examples of increases in beach attendance and tourism after a shark encounter or fatality, and states that New South Wales authorities are ignoring the empirical data available to them.

“In the past six years, in the majority of cases, there has been a growth in either domestic or international tourism, twelve months after a shark encounter – even if the encounter is a tragic fatality,” Natalie Banks said.

“It is clear from the information available through beach attendance and tourism statistics, that it is misleading for anyone to say that the shark encounters impacts on tourism numbers and/or tourism expenditure.”

The evidence surrounding the 13 specific examples will be presented with Sea Shepherd’s submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry regarding the Shark Meshing Program, whereby they disprove the theory that the shark meshing program protects tourism and that shark encounters have a correlation to the tourism industry.

The evidence supports recent claims from the Australian Lifeguard Service that an additional 220,000 people visited beaches from Byron Bay to Richmond in the 2014/2015 financial year as well as a recent survey held by the Ballina Chamber of Commerce which illustrated that shark activity had no impact to over 85% of local businesses.

“With domestic and international tourism numbers and expenditure fluctuating regardless of shark encounters or not, there is also no evidence that shark encounters have any impact on tourism or tourism dollars spent,” Natalie said.

“The only examples whereby the tourism industry is allegedly hurt as a result from shark encounters, come from anecdotal opinions of business owners, which are neither reliable nor credible. Some business operators may have been shunned by customers because the operator is not particularly good at running a business… we just don’t know.”

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