How shark attacks impact tourism

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Australia - Hiresquare.com.au conducted a survey among 512 people who are interested in going on holiday to Australia to find out 14% is considering not to come to Australia due to shark attacks. Over 40% of of the respondents have heard about the recent shark attacks in Australia.

Ongoing debate on shark encounters have been controlling the news in Australia in the past 12 months with an aggressive culling strategy implemented by both New South Wales and Western Australia. The news about the shark attacks has been reaching the other side of the globe with over 42% of the international respondents hearing about the shark attacks..

Recent shark attacks
Australia has been shocked by two fatal attacks in WA in a week recently, boosting the media attention shark encounters receive all over the world. In the graph below you will find the number of unprovoked shark attacks that resulted in injury or death since 2010 segmented per state. (source: sharkattackdata.com/gsaf/place/australia)

Number of registered shark attacks per state
Filter by year

Shark attacks have up to 14% negative impact on Tourism
Hiresquare surveyed people from the 5 most important countries for Australian tourism (China, UK, USA, NZ and Japan - a combined revenue of 20.4 billion dollar according to the TRA) and who want to come to Australia for a holiday in the next three years and concluded that 6.1% of the respondents do not want to come to Australia any more due to shark attacks. An additional 7.8% of the people says shark attacks significantly impact their decision whether to come to Australia or not. Media plays a big roll, as 42% of the surveyed people have heard of the shark attacks in Australia.

With 14% seriously reconsidering whether to go to Australia or not, this has a potential impact of 2.9 billion dollar revenue for the Australian tourism industry.

It may come as no surprise that shark attacks are in the mind of tourists as over 86% of the respondents said they enter the water to either swim, surf or dive.

Directly navigate to:
  • Highlights and conclusions
  • Detailed survey results
  • Perspective on shark attacks
  • What measurements have been taken to protect people?
  • What can do you to reduce the risk
  • Highlights and conclusions

    • Almost 14% of all respondents is seriously doubting to go on holiday to Australia or does not want to go any more when asked if shark attacks impact their decision to go on holiday to Australia.
    • Chinese people are even more cautious with nearly 23% seriously doubting. Followed by respondents from the US with nearly 11%. The other nationalities are well below 10%.
    • 42% of all respondents have heard about shark attacks in Australia.
    • The shark attack news does not reach the United States very well. With only 20% who heard about the Australian shark attacks.
    • The top 5 countries that visit Australia for tourism spend 20.4 billion Australian dollars annually. When 14% doubts whether to go to Australia or not the impact could be up to 2.86 billion Australian Dollars.
    • Especially respondents who would surf in Australia are more cautious with a 31 percent higher percentage of people who seriously doubts whether to go to Australia or not.
    • New South Wales had the most shark attacks since 2010, however it suffers least from the news.
    • Families with children are more likely considering staying at home with 17% considering not to go compared to only 9% of people who would go without children.

    Detailed survey results

    Expenditure (in Billions) in Australia of the top 5 countries
    • China
    • United Kingdom
    • United States
    • New Zealand
    • Japan
    Have you heard about the shark attacks in Australia?
    Filter by residential country of respondents:
    Do Shark Attacks have an impact on whether you go on vacation to Australia or not?
    Filter by residential country of respondents:
    • It has no impact.
    • It makes me doubt a little.
    • It makes me doubt a lot.
    • I would not go any more.
    Shark attack decision impact per leisure activity.
    Filter by residential country of respondents:
    • It has no impact.
    • It makes me doubt a little.
    • It makes me doubt a lot.
    • I would not go any more.
    Shark attack decision impact per state or territory.
    Filter by residential country of respondents:
    • It has no impact.
    • It makes me doubt a little.
    • It makes me doubt a lot.
    • I would not go any more.
    Shark attack decision impact when they bring children on their holiday (or not)
    Shark attacks per activity
    Source: sharkattackdata.com


    Attacks and fatalities in perspective

    There have been 120 non-provoked shark encounters and 18 fatal shark attacks in 6.5 years time, that is just below respectively 18.5 and 3 a year. Over a 100 times more adult people drown each year, with 266 people between July 1st 2013 and June 30st 2014. (source: Royal Life saving).

    Over 7 million tourists came to Australia in the year prior to April 2016 according to the Tourism Research Australia. Based on our research that more than 86% of the tourists enter the water either for swimming, diving or surfing, means that over 6 million tourists enter the water on top of all local people who enter Australia. This makes the risk for being attacked or even fatally attacked by a shark very small.

    What measurements have been taken to protect people?

    Western Australia
    • On the 4th of July 2016 the University of Western Australia (UWA) published that the conclusion of their research was that the Shark Shield is an effective device to hold off Sharks. (Source: WaToday
    • Culling thorugh drum lines for a set time frame after various attacks
    • Professional shark hunters that patrol specific areas
    • Surf Life Saving WA (https://twitter.com/slswa?lang=en) and Sharksmart.com.au provides shark alerts

    Queensland
    • Culling through shark nets and drum lines.

    New South Wales
    • Culling through shark nets and drum lines.
    • Physical shark barrier trials on the North coast.
    • Aerial surveillance (including drones as a trial).
    • Trial with Sonar Technology (Clever Buoy).

    South Australia
    • Aerial surveillance.
    • Selected patrolled beaches.

    More research is being done through various organisations, governments and universities in order to learn more about shark behaviour and how encounters and attacks can be prevented.

    What you can do to reduce the risk

    Here are some additional tips on how to reduce the risk of being attacked (*1)
    • Don't enter the water on your own, stay in a group.
    • Tell someone you are going to the beach.
    • Avoid swimming/diving/surfing in schools of fish or near popular fishing spots. Be extra cautious when you see seals nearby as they are natural food to sharks.
    • Do not enter the water at dusk or night as sharks are more active.
    • Avoid areas where sharks are spotted often.
    • If sharks are spotted, get out of the water quickly but calmly and stay out of the water until responsible bodies give the water clear again.
    • Find a local organisation that sends out shark warnings, either through a phone app or twitter. You can do this in preparation before you go on holiday.
    • Recently the water temperature is being discussed as a factor in which white sharks are coming to shore, increasing the risk of being attacked. Temperatures around 18 degrees Celsius drive them to shore. There has not been a shark attack when the water was above 20 degrees Celsius. (source: news.com.au)
    • There are some shark repellent devices according to studies, such as an small electric shock emitting device.


    (*1) This is not a guarantee you will not be attacked.