Southern media need geography lessons

Tue 22 Mar 

Southern Cyclone media need geography lessons

Far North Queensland Tourism is once again likely to be the biggest loser from Cyclone Ului even though it was 800/900kms away (9/10 hours). It is not so much the actual cyclone that damages tourism it is the factually incorrect reporting that the southern newspapers and television stations seem to revel in, that affect our tourism.


As a tourist, with understandable concerns, the best advice we, in the far north, can offer is 'don't believe a word the media says, talk direct to the authorities in the regions that you either have your holiday booked into or are planning to visit. They will give you factual information that is not based on who can scare you the most'.


Now you may be thinking that these destinations may indulge in fairy story telling of their own. Well, to alleviate those concerns just check out the photo that our Editor took on Sunday from the Rex Lookout which is situated about half way between Port Douglas and Cairns on the Capt Cook highway at precisely the time that the television news stations and newspaper were telling you all about the cyclone hitting the North Queensland coast. The only threat to our Editors welfare from the weather was the fact that he had forgotten his Factor 30!

Southern Media reporting should be likened to a feeding frenzy of sharks with a competition as to which on-the-spot reporter can look the most concerned whilst finding the most serious impact images to report on (over and over again).


Naturally we, here in Port Douglas and surrounding region, do not wish to diminish the scale of the affect or damage that has been inflicted on Mackay and Airlie Beach but geographically this area that was worst affected is technically Central Coastal Queensland not North Queensland as the media insist on calling it. There is some controversy even at State parliament level as to where Mackay falls under but if this was NSW, it would definitely be considered to fall under a central coastal area.


Now whilst we have an affinity with our Queensland neighbours and have no wish to isolate them, it doesn't help visitors and viewers looking in to get a handle on the geographic location unless the media call the area by a location that describes where it is. Of course, we are assuming that the media want to be accurate in their reporting, so maybe we need to come up with some new geographic area names to reflect where along the coast the towns are actually situated. This may then help to alleviate the collateral damage that every northern Queensland town suffers whenever these overgeneralised news reports are broadcast.


It should be noted that the areas that were hit by the Cyclone did a great job and were well prepared taking every precaution in advance to protect both locals and visitors. Naturally they will need a serious clean up operation involving the Emergency services to help restore power lines and any suburban trees that have fallen but Queenslanders are a hardy bunch and they will have life back to normal very quickly.


In fact did you notice on Sunday morning television that already residents were out walking the dog and jogging whilst our intrepid reporters braving the same elements were recounting to camera, in their most concerned tones, just how devastated the community was. To everyone else it was being treated like a normal Sunday morning.


The Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) says ex-Tropical Cyclone Ului will draw a lot of money out of the economy in north Queensland. The cyclone crossed the Queensland coast near Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays at 1:30am (AEST) on Sunday, packing winds of more than 200 kilometres an hour.

QTIC chief executive officer Daniel Gschwind says damage is minor but it will take time for tourists to return. "The disruption to business is quite significant. It draws a lot of money out of the economy and it will certainly take weeks to restore business back to its full running. It will certainly take some time to restore consumers' confidence that it's okay to go up there," he said.


He says after the clean-up, tourists must be encouraged to return.


"It will take weeks for consumers to return - for the travellers to return with confidence - that's what usually happens," he said. "Unfortunately for the tourism industry the fear and the impact lingers on the minds of people and it's very important for the media also to portray an accurate image of what is going on."

To follow any cyclone activity (real or otherwise) you need only visit and they provide an ongoing satellite image with an up to date report on any cyclone warnings, their current routes and predicted strengths, you really don't need the TV or the newspapers if you want accurate information.


The sun has been shining all weekend in Port Douglas and if you watched the television news this morning you will have seen that the sun is shining again in both Mackay and Airlie Beach and already the clean up is well on it's way. There's no need to change your travel plans. Come up and see us in the far North and get away from the miserable weather down south and the news reporters. Don't forget your factor 30, the suns fierce up here!