Post-Cyclone Debbie visitors hit with fines by council
TOURISM industry figures in Airlie Beach have slammed the local council for handing out massive fines to some of the region's first post-cyclone visitors.
After having been told overnight camping would be permitted, 20 tourists were hit with fines, each valued at $243, just a week after Cyclone Debbie crossed Airlie Beach on March 28.
The tourism industry had welcomed the first visitors with open arms after the storm smashed local infrastructure and put backpacker accommodation caravan parks out of action.
Talks between Tourism Whitsundays and Whitsunday Regional Council led the council to commit to waiving fines for illegal camping for a week, until accommodation options reopened.
However a prominent Whitsundays tourism industry figure told The Courier-Mail the council had handed out the fines in a "dawn raid".
He said the fines were counteractive to an industry trying to get back on track following the storm.
The council claims the fines were only issued to illegal campers who were being anti-social and parking overnight in disabled parking spots.