There is no evidence to suggest that wind farms negatively impact upon tourism.
Windy Hill Wind Farm prompted resurgence in the depressed economy of Ravenshoe and supports additional businesses that arose since the wind farms construction, including a regular bus tour to the wind farm. Local businesses promote their proximity and the 'awesome' sight of the windmills.
In the first two years more than 6000 vehicles stopped in the carpark at Windy Hill to view the wind farm 'up close'. Those visitors came from as close as Ravenshoe and the Tablelands, from Cairns and Townsville; and from all parts of Australia and the world. The majority of visitor comments (more than 85%) were positive. This figure is similar to other studies. They commented
- on the 'awesomeness' of the sight of the towers;
- how quiet the turbines were in operating;
- how good it was to see a pro-active way of reducing impacts of climate change through embracing renewable technology.
RATCH-Australia hosts Open Day’s at its Wind Farms at regular intervals. Windy Hill Open Days are held in October at the same time as the local Torimba Festival.
Tourism South Australia promotes the Woakwine Range Wind Farm Tourist Drive, as do many local regions. Commercial tours are offered to several wind farms around Australia, which illustrates the ongoing interest by the community to view and learn about wind technology. Most wind farms have a viewing area which allows visitors to get close to a turbine and read interpretive information about them. RATCH-Australia welcomes questions from the community in relation to its windfarms, and arranges regular ‘Open Days’ at its wind farms.
The UK's first commercial wind farm at Delabole received 350,000 visitors in its first ten years of operation, while 10,000 visitors a year come to take the turbine tour at the EcoTech Centre in Swaffham, Norfolk. A MORI poll in Scotland showed that 80% of tourists would be interested in visiting a wind farm. Wind farm developers are often asked to provide visitor centres, viewing platforms and rights of way to their sites.
Port Bajool Pty Ltd (The Project Partners), are so assured that more tourists will want to visit the area, that they propose to build a $12 million Asia-Pacific Energy Innovation Centre adjacent to the Mt Emerald Wind Farm. It will showcase renewable energy technology and benefits to the many people expected to visit the site.