According to the recent Visitors Survey undertaken by the LHIB, LHITA and Qantas of ~1000 visitors to Lord Howe Island between October 2016 and June 2017, the World Heritage values of Lord Howe Island are the 2nd highest motivation (behind escape to a remote island) visitors give for visiting; with beautiful scenery and natural environment the top ranking associations visitors have with the Island.
Tourism is the largest industry on Lord Howe Island, with the dramatic scenery and natural environment, along with its world heritage status, playing an important part in visitors experience and linking the maintenance of those world heritage values inextricably to future tourism.
Base on this association, the LHIB undertook an Economic Evaluation (Gillespie Economics) comparing proceeding with the REP to continuing with the current rodent control.
Key results of the study:
- Continued presence of rodents could affect biodiversity and the tourism experience and therefore lead to a reduced tourism demand.
- Proceeding with the REP has significant net economic benefits both to LHI residents, tourists and Australia. The project has a Benefit to Cost Ratio of 17:1 which means it is easily justified on economic efficiency grounds.
- In both the short term and long term the economic activity impacts on the LHI economy from the REP are likely to be positive.
- A potential for reduction in tourism during the REP was considered to be low but even if there was some reduction, it would be more than offset by demand for accommodation and meals from the project workforce. Potential short term impacts to tour operators can be offset by hiring tour vessels and vehicles for various aspects of the project.
- Economic benefits of the REP are primarily driven by improved biodiversity (including preventing further species extinctions) and increased tourism demand as a result.
- An increase in tourism demand would lead to:
- An increase in the market price for accommodation on LHI during peak tourism periods (even though no increase in visitation is possible because of the bed cap). Accommodation provider and airlines would be the main beneficiaries during peak periods.
- An increase in visitation and in the market price for accommodation on LHI in off peak tourism periods. All tourism providers i.e. accommodation providers, tour operators, food outlets and shops would benefit during off peak periods.
The REP also requires accommodation and services for the project workforce. over 3200 bed nights have been booked for the workforce in May – Aug of 2018.
As an additional tourism initiative during the REP the LHIB in conjunction with LHITA are currently in the final planning stages of an Eco Tourism centred campaign to be launched January 2018, promoting Lord Howe Island based on its natural environment and conservation efforts; including the upcoming REP.
This campaign is aimed at Environmental warriors and Eco Travellers who want to make a difference whilst experiencing the unparalleled natural environment that Lord Howe Island has to offer.
As a part of our Ecotourism campaign we will be putting together exclusive packages that encompass the unique opportunities available to get involved with one of the most significant conservation projects of 2018.
In addition the LHIB will be exploring the feasibility of destinational Ecotourism certification to increase exposure and receive recognition for our current environmental conservation community projects.