Cid Harbour was almost deserted following another shark attack. Picture: Daryl Wright
Cid Harbour was almost deserted following another shark attack. Picture: Daryl Wright

Tourists were being warned of sharks

TOURISM operators were warning travellers about the dangers of sharks in the Whitsundays weeks before Monday's tragic attack.

After two attacks at the picturesque locale in September, the region's tourism operators ramped up warnings to guests about the dangers of sharks in the area.

State Tourism Minister Kate Jones said local operators had warned tourists about Cid Harbour.

"Local charter operators have already been active in telling anyone hiring a boat that no one should swim in Cid Harbour," she said.

"As well as new signs we will also work on other ways of getting the message to tourists and boaties."

Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief Daniel Gschwind said operators had "explicitly" included shark warnings in guest briefings since two visitors were mauled in September.

He said tourism operators were committed to ensuring the safety of their guests.

"Caring for our visitors is the main purpose for our existence," he said.

Few things strike as much fear in to the hearts of potential tourists as shark attacks.

WA's tourism industry has been rocked by shark attacks on Australia's west coast, while Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean has taken the radical step of making swimming and surfing illegal at all but two netted beaches after a spate of fatalities crippled the island's tourism trade.

Mr Gschwind said it was too early to talk about what damage the spate of Cid Harbour attacks was doing to the Queensland industry, but conceded it was not good.

"It's not how we want to find ourselves making international headlines," he said.

"Sharks create a sense of primordial fear which can certainly have an impact.

"Clearly, this has been a terrible tragedy and what matters now is how we respond to this."

Tourism Whitsundays chief Natassia Wheeler also said it was too soon to speculate about the damage to the region's tourism reputation.