RED TAPE: Jobs lost as Island business forced to close
POPULAR Fraser Island tour operators say State Government red tape has forced their doors to close after more than two decades in business.
But the Department of Environment and Science maintains any decision from the company to close or suspend tours is "a commercial business decision" and there are still tour options available to them.
Unique Fraser Tours, which conducted guided expeditions on the island for 25 years, originally had an arrangement to offer tag-along tours with other island businesses under a sub-contracting arrangement with Butchulla Elder Malcolm Burns.
Owners Troy and Christina Jacob say ongoing terms and conditions placed on the business got in the way of the arrangement, effectively meaning the business could no longer conduct any tours on the island.
The business owners met with DES representative on a number of occasions to resolve the issue, but said no solution was found.
They made the difficult decision to shut their doors in January.
Speaking to the Chronicle, Ms Jacob said the decision took a major financial toll on her family and led to eight people losing their jobs.
"There's $100,000 of LandCruisers to pay registration for, along with phone bills," Ms Jacob said.
"We've been paying out bookings since January.
"Twenty-five years and after all that, they (the Department) said 'it's not our problem, sorry.'"
Unique Fraser employed 16 Butchulla locals in its 25 years, many of whom have gone on to become Land and Sea Rangers with the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation.
Ms Jacob said the business could start again if exemptions were granted to its permit arrangement, but said DES told her there was "no scope" for their tours.
A DES spokesman said Unique Fraser Tours still had the authority to conduct tag-along tours on the island and the arrangement "mirrors the same conditions of other tag-along operators".
"Unique Fraser have advised the department that the business arrangement they had with the other operator is no longer in place," the spokesman said.
"Any decision by Unique Fraser to suspend their tourism operation is a commercial business decision."