Accurate cyclone reports are essential
Yesterday's Cyclone warning for Cyclone Neville which turned into a watch only, acted as a timely reminder to many in Port Douglas and surrounding regions that the cyclone season is here and warnings of this nature will occur on and off from now through to maybe late March.
Most of these, thankfully, will come to nothing in our region. However it does bring back horrible memories of the damage that can be caused not by the cyclones themselves but by irresponsible media when they decide that Cyclone warnings will sell their newspapers.
Previous erroneous weather reporting has significantly affected travel to north Queensland. For example Cyclone Larry and recent flooding of certain areas were blown out of all proportion predominantly by southern and international press looking for a sensational headline to sell their newspapers. It is paramount to a competitive tourism destination that accurate information and detailed geographical reports are made available to both industry and consumers without any media sensationalism or exaggeration.
When Cyclone Larry in 2005 hit the town of Innisfail, international and southern press reported that the whole of Queensland was closed having been destroyed and it would be years before it recovered. This couldn't have been further from the truth. The reality of the tragedy was confined almost exclusively to the unfortunate town of Innisfail and whilst the devastation was terrible it had little effect on the rest of Queensland other than to initiate a massive relief operation from the rest of Australia in support of their fellow countrymen.
The blanket press coverage however had a shocking affect on the rest of Queensland and indeed it did take years to recover not from the cyclone damage but from their irresponsible reporting. In fact during Cyclone Mona which went across the very top of Queensland shortly after cyclone Larry had paid its visit, had the television news channels reporting its trail of devastation by broadcasting archive footage from Cyclone Tracy which occurred in 1974! Once again an unnecessary wave of panic ensued from worried family and friends, let alone the prospective holidaymakers, who understandably cancelled their holidays in droves.
It is our experience from living in Queensland for over 12 years that weather events such as these only effect isolated areas and the most important thing to guarantee is that both the local population and our visitors are kept well informed on how to prepare and act safely and securely deal with the possible affects of a cyclone if in the rare event they get caught in one rather than sending them into an unnecessary panic with misinformation every time there is just a warning.