Shark sightings and beach closures since the attack on Brett Connellan earlier this month are having little effect on tourism according to industry leaders.
Tourism is Kiama’s most important industry, with many of the area’s businesses dependent, either directly or indirectly, on visitors coming to town. It seems Kiama has escaped the fate of Lennox Head, where visitor numbers have dropped markedly after a number of attacks.
Carole Johnston, Council’s Strategic Tourism and Marketing Manager, says that the Visitors’ Centre hasn’t noticed any downturn, and people aren’t raising sharks as a concern.
“People are seeing it as an isolated incident that could have happened anywhere around Australia. The reality is that it isn’t an issue for tourists to our area.”
Hamish Armytage, of South Coast Holidays, says that they haven’t noticed any fall off in bookings for the rest of the year, although there haven’t been as many last minute bookings for this long weekend. “I don’t think this is due to the shark situation as it is doubtful the latter sightings have got in much media attention elsewhere.
“We speak to everyone who makes an enquiry about a booking and only one person has mentioned the sharks. They ended up making a booking anyway.”
Locals have become used to the increased aerial patrols, and surfers are slowly returning to their favourite breaks.
While the World Surf League’s Subway Pro Junior was transferred up to Wollongong in the week after the attack for peace of mind, the annual Werri Slash will on in Gerringong in May (more next issue).