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Christmas Island set for higher tourism profile

February 1, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Australia’s Christmas Island was once associated in many minds with the arrival of asylum seekers in boats. Those days are receding fast and an Australian Government delegation is currently visiting the island to find the best way to boost ecotourism and beach holidays.

There’s plenty of ecotourism potential. The mass migration of millions of endemic red land crabs each December turns the Indian Ocean island into the set of a real-life Discovery Channel documentary.

Described by naturalist Sir David Attenborough as one of the most spectacular annual migrations on the planet, this extraordinary natural phenomena climaxes on the outgoing high tide, when millions of the female red crabs simultaneously spawn (drop their eggs in the sea).

Then there’s Abbott’s booby (Papasula abbotti). Christmas Island shelters the world’s last breeding ground of this rare bird. Just incidentally, Abbott’s booby  is named after American naturalist William Louis Abbott, who collected the first specimen from Assumption Island in 1892. The big booby is not named after anyone else you might think of.

Red crabs cross the road in safety on special walkway

Which takes us back to Parliament. The Federal Parliament’s Northern Australia Committee has been touring Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands on a fact-finding mission and will depart for the mainland today. It has held public hearings and inspections as part of its mission, official titled the “Inquiry into Opportunities and Methods for Stimulating the Tourism Industry in Northern Australia”.

Committee chair Warren Entsch says ecotourism is becoming increasingly popular with Australian and international visitors and the potential is there to develop existing tourism operations and create new experiences on the Indian Ocean Territories.

Juvenile Abbott’s booby (Papasula abbotti)

“Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands have recently been voted as having some of the best beaches in Australia, with their pristine coral reefs, and largely untouched national parks,” Entsch said this week.

“Increasing tourism to the islands has the potential to also boost jobs and create a positive impact on the local economy,” he said.

Written by Peter Needham

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