Fears of a tour price war
A HAWAIIAN-based research foundation PWF will launch its first whale watching tour next month with ticket prices up to $40 below prices of existing operators.
It is a move that has created fears of a price war similar to that experienced on the Gold Coast.
Hervey Bay Whale Watch owner Brian Perry said none of the existing operators were against competition but warned against price cutting.
PWF, already well established as a whale watch operator in Hawaii, is offering whale watching tours for $85 per adult.
Established companies offer tours for $110-$120.
Last season, 50,000 tourists went whale watching from Hervey Bay.
Mr Perry said it was unlikely numbers would increase this season due to competition from places such as the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast.
"Reducing prices never helps the industry," he said.
PWF operations manager Andrew Ellis said cheaper prices meant more tourists were educated about whales.
"The difference is we are an education-based operator," he said.
"The whole point of our foundation is to get as many people as possible whale watching."
Mr Ellis said the PWF operation wanted to attract new tourists, not compete for existing market share.
"Boats that have come in here and started a price war are no longer here," he said.
The first PWF whale watching tour begins on July 28, with bookings expected to be open within the next week.
Mr Ellis said at least five jobs would be created to staff the daily tours.
"We have already employed three locals and hope to find others to fill vacancies," he said.
PWF opened a store at the Urangan marina about a year ago and have operated research expeditions for the past 20 years.