EVER POPULAR: The love affair between tourists and koalas shows no sign of slowing down.
EVER POPULAR: The love affair between tourists and koalas shows no sign of slowing down. Paul Donaldson BUN030117SNAKES4

Ecotourism called a strength as koala debate hots up

WHILE the hot button issues of koala preservation and conservation heat up discussions on the Coffs Coast, business analyst IBISWorld is making bold predictions.

The organisation puts nature reserves and conservation parks on the list of five Australian Industries To Fly in 2018, giving impetus to the creation of a Great Koala National Park for the region.

Senior Industry Analyst William McGregor said the sector had a growth projection of 6.2 per cent in the coming year.

"IBISWorld attributes rising revenue for this industry to growth in domestic and international tourism which is increasing government funding for ecotourism activities,” he said.

"In addition the relative weakness of the Australian dollar has increased the cost of holidaying overseas for Australians and decreased the cost of visiting Australia for foreigners, both of which benefit local ecotourism.

"We anticipate growth in admission fees, sales and government funding to boost industry revenue this year to reach $1.7 billion.”

These figures add strength to data released at the end of 2017 by Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker showing a spike in the number international visitors to the region, looking mainly for an ecotourism experience.

In all visitor surveys, the desire to see koalas ranks at or near the top.

Only one of the top five Industries To Fly - petroleum exploration - had no local relevance.

Of the others, wind and other electric generation showed projected growth of a massive 35.3 per cent, while sports and recreation facilities operation - one of the Coffs Coast's perceived strengths - can expect growth around 9.3 per cent.

Dairy cattle farmers can expect an eight per cent increase in their prospects.

In the list of five Industries To Fall, outdoor vegetable growing is among the most vulnerable.

That is apart from one of the region's greatest strengths, particularly on the Dorrigo plateau.

Continuing strong demand for potato and onion crops is expected to future proof some agricultural pursuits.

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