Imagine a holiday to a destination with:
– a pleasant sub-tropical climate
– spectacular landscapes
– great walks
– great marine life, world-class coral and unique bird life
– a World Heritage Area
– no rubbish, with world class waste management systems
– very few other tourists (400 maximum by law)
– very few residents
– very few shops
– no advertising boards
– no internet, mobile phone coverage or TV
– very few cars, a 25kph speed limit, no seat belts
– cycling and walking predominate
– warm and friendly people
– no locks on homes and where possessions (bikes, kayaks, boats) can be left in public places
– no unemployment
– a functioning, transparent council
– 2 hrs from Sydney and Brisbane
Too good to be true? That’s Lord Howe Island!
Now, if you like cities, crowds, high rise buildings, hordes of visitors, young people and you are addicted to digital media, LHI is not for you. But, in an era where cities and towns are saying ‘enough’ to tourism and tourists, LHI might be the future.
Being an island greatly helps. It has strong border protection, being isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. And it fiercely protects its natural environment, currently committing to eradicating rats from the island, a first for an inhabited island, with the expectation that several bird species will return to LHI as a result, together with greater variety and quality of vegetation.
But it has legislated a maximum number of tourists, has no multi-storey buildings, no international branded food or clothing outlets and no property market for non-residents. It has a small runway that can only be expanded by impacting the natural environment which it promotes.
So what’s the problem?
It is costly, due to its small size. It’s costly to get there, thanks to Qantas’ virtual monopoly on flights. It’s costly to be there, due to its remoteness. And the availability of tourism options is difficult to determine. There’s no central tourism or information office. You find out by word of mouth what’s on and where, and tours are often cancelled due to weather or unavailability.
Also the quality of tours is variable. The quality of boats, of guiding, of supporting services varies greatly. So much tourism opportunity is being lost by the LHI community, due to the low quality and quantity of tourism offers.
And the small number of tourists means it is only available for the few. Mass tourism is not a possibility for LHI. I don’t want mass tourism. I’ve opted out of city tourism – most cities are much the same. I want to be away by myself/ourselves, in landscapes and seascapes.
Oops…perhaps I shouldn’t tell you about LHI….