Community should step in to help educate tourists

SURF safety advice should be given at every shop, petrol bowser and holiday accommodation reception desk, Ballina Councillor Sharon Cadwallader says.

Following the inquest this week into the drowning of Irish tourist Stuart Butler at Tallow Beach last July, Ms Cadwallader wants all Northern Rivers locals to become surf safety ambassadors.

"We can all do more. From people in shops to those serving petrol, there's no better way to communicate than word of mouth," she said.

"Just tell tourists: Never ever swim unless it's between the flags."

Ms Cadwallader, who owns Leisure Lees Holiday Apartments in East Ballina, yesterday praised the State Coroner's recommendation that accommodation providers give weather updates and alerts to guests to prevent tourists swimming or surfing in dangerous conditions.

"We train our staff to educate visitors on conditions at our local waterways and beaches, and we leave flyers in our rooms on swimming between the flags," she said.

"It is not about scaring them away, it's about taking care of tourists.

"We can all do more. From people in shops to those serving petrol, there's no better way to communicate than word of mouth.

"Beach signs might not be read; people can get too wound up in their excitement to get to the beach to stop and read signs, but pictures work; face-to-face messages get through.

"It doesn't take long to warn someone about a dangerous rip, or hand them a flyer with information on swimming between the flags."

Byron Shire Mayor Simon Richardson also wants tourists to be educated - before they arrive on the North Coast.

"I would love for every person flying into Australia to watch a video on beach safety," Mr Richardson said.

"Why not let people know what the dangers are on our beaches and what the yellow and red flags mean, before they even touch soil?

"We need to collectively step up."


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