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SCU research highlights impact of seachangers


5 April 2004
The influx of 'seachangers' into the Mid North and North Coast regions could have major implications for employment, the tourism and hospitality industry and the provision of infrastructure, according to a Southern Cross University (SCU) lecturer.

Mr Grant Cairncross, a lecturer in SCU’s School of Tourism and Hospitality, and research assistant Melissa Crowe, have just completed a preliminary survey into 'seachangers' and 'downshifters', people who take a cut in pay in order to have a better lifestyle.

They are now planning to expand their initial study and are hoping to get input and help from Local Government and other organisations between Port Macquarie and the Queensland border. They are also inviting people who fit their definition of a 'seachanger' or 'downshifter' to contact them to take part in a wider survey.

Mr Cairncross said a national Newspoll survey in 2002 had found that 23 per cent of 30 to 60-year-olds had downshifted and he wanted to find out if the same figures applied in this region.

“There are a lot of people moving into these areas and most of them have children. We will need to see if this important trend will affect things like education infrastructure and employment. We really need to start planning for how we can attract medium to long-term jobs into this region,” Mr Cairncross said.

“We need to have a strategy developed between Local Government and the State and Federal governments.”

Mr Cairncross said his initial research involved case studies of people based in and around Coffs Harbour, aged between 30 and 59 years of age, who had made a deliberate decision to move here in the last five years in order to have a better lifestyle.

“They want changes in their lifestyle and many have taken a cut in overall income to get it, something which is representative of what is happening nationally.”

Among the findings of his initial survey were that the majority of people moved to the Coffs Harbour region because of family connections and most of them were happy with the move. However all of the participants felt Coffs Harbour was in danger of being over-developed and of losing some of its 'charm'.

The survey also indicated that people who downshifted to these sorts of areas then took less holidays and had changed their dining out habits, factors which could have long-term implications for the tourism and hospitality industry.

Organisations and individuals interested in getting involved in the research should contact Grant Cairncross in SCU’s School of Tourism and Hospitality on 6659 3617.

Media contact: Brigid Veale, SCU Media Liaison, 66593006 or m. 0439 680 748.