Surf lifesavers have landed at Cairns Airport as part of a vital new community awareness initiative designed to educate tourists and save lives on local beaches.
For the next six months, domestic and international passengers arriving at Cairns Airport will be greeted by surf lifesavers in full patrol uniform and presented with multilingual information about marine stingers, patrol times and how to protect themselves while swimming at the beach.
Thousands of tourists, and potential beachgoers, from across Australia and the world are expected to filter through the airport across the next six months, and Surf Life Saving Queensland community awareness manager Helen Hallett said it was a great opportunity to help keep them safe.
“North Queensland is obviously home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, attracting thousands of visitors from all over Australia and right across the world,” Mrs Hallett said.
“Tragically there have been three drownings on North Queensland beaches since July last year and a further seven in the previous ten years, and a large number of these people were international tourists with little or no experience in the Australian surf.
“This is a great opportunity for surf lifesavers to engage with tourists and travelers, and provide them with some basic information about how to protect themselves, their friends and their families when they next visit a beach,” she said.
Passengers arriving at the airport on weekdays during designated hours will receive a fold-out map listing every patrolled beach in Cairns, along with a list of patrol hours and key safety messages including information on marine stingers, beach flags and sun safety.
Safety messages will be distributed in 15 different languages including Chinese, Korean, Arabic, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish to name a few.
“A lot of people arriving in North Queensland over the next few months will not have been to Australia before, let alone been for a swim at one of our beaches,” Mrs Hallett said
“If we can actively engage with tourists and encourage them to make smart choices about their safety before even stepping onto a beach, then it makes the job of our patrolling lifesavers and lifeguards that much easier,” she said.
Cairns Airport GM People, Communication & Compliance, Nerida Mitchell, said the airport was pleased to support this potentially life-saving initiative.
“We welcome Surf Life Saving Queensland to our terminals to meet and greet arriving passengers and pass on key water safety messages,” Ms Mitchell said.
“Cairns Airport connects the world with the Great Barrier Reef. There are so many water based activities on offer in our spectacular part of the world and many of our visitors are unfamiliar with swimming and water safety.
“By greeting passengers on arrival the SLSQ representatives will be able to talk to visitors about this important issue, give them a brochure and direct them to web links for more information in their own language,” she said.