Shark attacks aren’t denting WA tourism

Shark attacks aren’t denting WA tourism

The folks on the Western side of Australia have nerves of steel.

Visitors to the Esperance Shire, a coastal town in regional WA, have said they are not being deterred by recent shark attacks, with tourism numbers booming instead, according to ABC Online.

Last October, local Esperance surfer Sean Pollard, 23, lost his left forearm and right hand in an attack by two sharks, writes the ABC.

Jay Muscat, 17, was killed by a great white shark while spearfishing off the coast of Albany in December, and while people may have changed the way they approach the water, the recent attacks have not put a dent in tourism numbers.

“Talking with other tourism operators, it’s a really big season, we’ve had the overflow camping grounds, the national parks and people are out there doing as much as they can,” Tourism Esperance chairwoman Cindy Poole said.

“It’s just so positive because everyone says it’s so beautiful if they’ve never been here before and we’re getting a lot more repeat visitors.”

Shire president Malcolm Heasman was reported by the ABC stating that the attacks had proved to be a concern for the community, but not for tourists.

“You wouldn’t be human if you weren’t concerned there’s a risk,” he said.

“I don’t believe it’s deterred anyone from heading out, but there would be some who are much more cautious and maybe instead of going out further, stay in close.

“The comment around town is that they’ve [camping grounds] all done extremely well, certainly the hospitality places have done very well.

“The amount of tents have just been unbelievable, so the numbers are there there’s no doubt about it.”

Esperance surf coach Brent Moss also commented that the incidents had made more people wary, but certainly hadn’t driven them away.

“I think there’s quite a few people that are just taking that little bit more care, which is a good thing,” he said, with ABC reporting the locals were well aware of sharks.

“They’re observing the ocean a little bit more, taking in what’s happening out there rather than just jumping in the water and going for it.”

With 20 years of coastal swimming, Moss said he’d had few contact with sharks, but when starting a board riders club, worked to enforce the ‘safety in numbers’ rule.

ABC Online reported Heasman saying the attack on Sean Pollard had changed the way people approached the water.

“Whilst we don’t want those unfortunate incidents to happen I suppose if there is any silver lining perhaps it might have just awakened a few people up to the fact that there are risks out there and you can’t be silly about it,” he said.

“You have to take every precaution you possibly can.”

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