Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Cape tourism in a fragile position, scrutiny shows

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Cape York’s fragile tourism industry has been exposed as a result of this month’s spotlight on supposed closures of the Tip.

And even though there will be no closures to sites this year – just as predicted by Cape York Weekly – something must be done about the region’s tourism industry.

Stop sign at Cape York
Cape York’s tourism industry is at the mercy of many factors, including road closures and talk of site closures. Photo: Matt Nicholls.

Brooke Quartermaine from Weipa Camping Ground said the damage caused by the reporting of the Tip “closure” had exposed the local tourism’s vulnerability.

“It only took a couple of stories about a site being closed to create panic and cancellations,” she said.

“While it’s great to get your photo at the Tip, that’s just one small element of the Cape York experience and definitely not the highlight for most people.

“As a tourism industry, we need to be stronger than just one site or one experience on the Cape because it makes us look very fragile if anything ever closes.”

Ms Quartermaine said it was time for the Cape to revitalise Tourism Cape York and start up a Local Tourism Organisation, complete with a board of people from across the region.

“We’re not getting the support from Tourism Tropical North Queensland and it’s up to us on the Cape to promote the whole region and encourage more travellers,” she said.

“If we can do that, then stories such as closures of the Tip – even if they aren’t true – won’t have such a big impact because there’s so much more to the Cape than just one site.”

Deal struck

Last week, the NPA Regional Council struck a deal with the Gudang/Yadhaykenu Aboriginal Corporation to improve facilities near the Tip car park at Pajinka.

The council will install toilets at the site in the short-term, while the Traditional Owner group puts together a long-term management plan for the area.

To pay for improved facilities, tourists will pay $10 per head on the Jardine River ferry.

NPA mayor Patricia Yusia said she was grateful to the Traditional Owners for working with the council to resolve pressing issues for the upcoming tourist season.

“We met with Elders and members of Gudang/Yadhaykenu and heard their concerns,” she said.

“Visitors to Pajinka, and indeed throughout the Northern Peninsula are welcome, but the area and environment is precious to the Traditional Owners and all of us.

“We need to respect it, and ensure it remains a place of significance for future generations.”

Cr Yusia said the council was now in the process of being able to support the Traditional Owners in developing practical ways of keeping Pajinka open.

“We acknowledge the majority of tourists are respectful during their visit to the area but would kindly remind all visitors to please respect the region and its land,” she said.

Ferry closed

Travellers wanting to visit the NPA by road will have to wait until April 26 as a result of a maintenance program on the Jardine River Ferry.

Jardine River ferry
The Jardine River ferry is closed until April 26 due to maintenance. Photo: Matt Nicholls.

The council dropped the notice without warning last week, sparking concerns for locals, especially those who travel regularly between the NPA and Weipa/Mapoon.

Rio Tinto Weipa has a number of employees from the NPA that travel back north after their shifts.

The council did not provide an explanation why the work was being carried out just as the roads were starting to re-open at the end of the wet season.

The good news is that the ferry should have few issues at the height of the tourist season in June and July.

Cape York Weekly 29 March 2021

This article appeared in Cape York Weekly, 29 March 2021.

Related stories: Tip of Cape York unlikely to be closed; Fake news: tourism operators say the Cape is open.

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