The Chronicle

Plan now for severe changes in weather

COFFS Coast tourism will have a sustainable future if risks from extreme weather are planned for now, a new report has shown.

A study by the Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre (STCRC), which focused on an area from Coffs Harbour to the Sunshine Coast, found that extreme natural events (ENE) have occurred with considerable frequency over the years.

The study found that cyclones occur in the region every 2.3 years and on average the coast is hit with one severe storm a year.

With ENEs predicted to increase in both frequency and intensity due to climate change, the STCRC claim it's time to start planning for the worst.

Chief executive officer, Ian Kean, said the report provides tourism operators and destinations with valuable risk management information.

“Extreme weather events are part of our natural environment and tourism operators cannot afford to be taken by surprise,” Mr Kean said.

Key factors identified by the study include ensuring built structures can withstand a potential ENE, the establishing of strong communication networks between emergency services and government departments, and the development of a mitigation strategy in consultation with the tourism industry in the case of an emergency.

“Risk management is an increasingly important component of destination management planning and this type of information is beneficial in developing an ENE planning approach,” he said.

The STCRC was established under the Federal Government's Co-operative Research Centres program in 1997 and has grown to become the largest dedicated tourism research organisation in the world.

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