The latest industry to jump on the backlash bandwagon and join the bumpy ride to slow down the pulp mill is the Tourism industry. Siding with the wineries and agriculture that lines the Tamar yet ignoring the Government justification that the pulp mill will have Tamar hotels and motels booked out like Christmas in Bethlehem, Tasmania’s powerful Tourism industry is armed with more points than a porcupine for the proposed pulp mill. While the State Government has admitted it has no figures on the value of tourism in the Tamar Valley, this is not an industry worth ignoring. According to the 2007 Tasmanian Visitor Survey, an estimated 40,000 people are involved or employed within the Tourism industry, which makes this industry the largest within Tasmania, not to mention the 850,000approx visitors that grace our shores per year from Australia and around the world. This industry injected $1.3 billion into the State, 25% of which was spent in and around the Tamar and the State’s north. The estimated income of the pulp mill sits at $6.7 billion over twenty five years, which only equates to $258 million per year. The pulp mill will be located in Bell Bay, which is the largest industrial precinct in Tasmania and the Government premise seems to be that a few more smokestacks in an already industrial area isn’t going to be a problem. But due to geographic and atmospheric conditions in the Tamar Valley, air pollution is already at a substantial level and is enough to attribute eight deaths a year in this region. Many believe Gunns’ impact assesments underestimate the effects on air quality that this pulp mill will have because they have failed to take the existing haze of pollution into account. While the assesment of dangerous air pollution is paramount, it’s the smell of burning sulphur that has many locals worried. Sure Rotarua’s tourism trade still thrives in the face of rotten egg gas, but their natural attractions far out weigh their natural gas. In respect to the wineries that line the banks of the Tamar and thrive off wine sales from their cellar door, if the faint smell of rotten eggs wofting through the vineyard doesn’t deter tourists then trying to pick the tannins from the sulphur will.
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