SEVERAL operators on Lord Howe Island have hit back at media reports that suggest the majority of tourism operations on the island have been impacted by a recent closure of the island’s Permanent Park Preserve (PPP) due to the risk of an invasive myrtle rust fungus.
Lisa Ralph from Dive Lord Howe was one of the strong critics of the reporting, telling travelBulletin the narrative had the potential to mislead travellers planning trips to the popular tourism hub.
“I think that we should be promoting the fact that what the Lord Howe Island Board is doing is required to ensure that the island remains a pristine and healthy environment, and closing the walks in the PPP for the short-term is ensuring the long-term health of the island,” she said.
“Aside from walking there are plenty of other activities on offer, including the services that we provide like SCUBA diving, snorkelling, kayaking and paddle boarding in the beautiful waters surrounding the island,” Ralph added.
However, not all operators were as positive about the decision to close 70% of Lord Howe Island for biosecurity reasons, with Lord Howe Environmental Tours Director Ros Hiscox slamming the decision, standing firm that it was “not the right decision”.
“The closure has affected our business, we had four walking groups booked in that have cancelled, as well as having to cancel our Mt Gower treks that were fully booked,” he explained.
“We have been providing refunds for the cancelled tours.
“The park should have been left open with a spray treatment protocol in place,” Hiscox concluded.
Most sources suggest the closure should only go on for a matter of weeks, not months, however this is not a water-tight date and depends on how the Island is able to manage the outbreak of the rogue fungus.