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Social impacts of north Qld mining, tourism in research spotlight


Anne-Louise Brown
20 May 2015
The tourism and resource sectors within the Mackay and Whitsundays regions are shifting, creating significant economic changes and challenges for the community.

As the mining boom slows and the tourism market fluctuates, strategies to support the regions’ ability to address and manage these changes must be implemented in a bid to help reduce negative impacts.

Research to be undertaken by Southern Cross University PhD candidate Alexandra Bec seeks to understand community sentiments in the Mackay and Whitsundays regions relating to the economic changes stemming from these sector shifts, as well as measure community resilience.

“The mining downturn has created job losses and economic challenges for many businesses in the Mackay and Whitsundays regions, which has extended to less local investment, people leaving the regions and a slow housing market,” Ms Bec said.

“There are also concerns over the impact mining is having on tourism, such as the damage to the Great Barrier Reef and other natural resources.

“Tourism and mining are two of Australia’s largest industries. However, both experience significantly fluctuating communities that have to contend with the changes both these industries bring, namely significant economic hardship.”

Through her research Ms Bec will devise strategies to help build and maintain resilience within the community to help manage future structural changes driven by tourism and the resources sector.

“Much of the structural change is long term, which makes it very hard for communities to be resilient and manage large changes in these sectors.

“Therefore, it’s important to research how to build resilience within these communities to reduce the impact economic changes have on the community.

“I’m hoping my research will build more resilient communities here in Australia, particularly for communities contending with change driven by tourism and the resources sector.”

Ms Bec will be in Mackay from 1-14 June to gather data, followed by the Whitsundays from 14-25 June.

Data will also be gathered via an online survey, which can be completed by local residents aged 15 and over.
Photo: Southern Cross University PhD candidate Alexandra Bec.