A Newspoll survey has shown that forest logging is not only turning tourists away but destroying the very thing most people holidaying in East Gippsland would want to experience – old growth forests and rainforests.
Results from a Newspoll survey in late August show that the forests of East Gippsland are potentially as important in attracting visitors to this region as its coast. Of Victorian’s polled, 86% said that East Gippsland’s old growth and rainforests would be appealing to visit.
When asked about towns that promoted themselves as Timber Towns, twice as many people said they would be turned-off, (45%) than those likely to stay or visit (23%).
With help from a generous donor, EEG commissioned Newspoll to obtain this rock solid evidence that logging is undermining the potential of forest tourism.
Every week that we loose another mountainside of old growth forest, we lose another tourism gold-mine. And with it goes potential jobs and economic activity.
We wouldn’t mine our beaches for sand, and neither should we be clearfelling our forests. But government tourism agencies seem to have a blind spot when it comes to forest based tourism in East Gippsland. The potential can’t be denied any longer.
The survey results are accurate to within 6% and if Timber Towns want job security, leaving forests stand is the answer. The tourism industry is worth between $250-300 million to East Gippsland. It employs many hundreds of people, including women and young people. Logging is worth less than $5 million and now mostly employs a handful of men, accounting for less than 2% of jobs in the region.
If the current coastal based industry can generate up to $300 million, and forests are equally as appealing to visitors, all we need to do is lift the lid off this bucket of gold. It’s now up to tourism associations, Chambers of Commerce and all levels of government to recognise this. What we have here is the nearest thing to trees that lay golden eggs.