Weather puts off turtle visitors
THE allure of the turtle nesting season has been overshadowed by fears of bad weather, with visitor numbers down by almost 600 year on year just two months into the season.
The drop, from about 6800 visitors to December last year to 6200 this year, comes despite a $200,000 Tourism Queensland advertising campaign promoting the majestic animals as a jewel of the region.
Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism general manager James Corvan said the Christmas floods last year had meant a lot of people were now putting off booking until the last minute.
"The visitor market at the moment is quite skittish - it's a bit of a case of once bitten, twice shy," he said.
Mr Corvan said he was not too concerned about the drop in numbers because tourism across the state was experiencing the same issues since the flooding.
"Unfortunately, the messages coming out (about weather) are scaring people," he said.
But in the past two days, the visitor centre had received a high influx of calls requesting tours.
Mr Corvan said the poor showing could also be a decline in the number of Bundaberg region residents visiting the turtles because of the slow start to the season.
Since early November, 124 turtles have hit the shores of Mon Repos Conservation Park compared with 176 at the same time last season.
But rangers at the turtle rookery are not worried about the number of turtles visiting the shores.
Department of Environment and Resource Management turtle expert Col Limpus said last season saw an unusually high number of turtles visit the beaches.
"It's part of the cycle," he said.
"Turtles can't breed two years in a row. It's when you are expecting a big season and there are not many that you start to get concerned."