The Nippers team has been left fed up. Picture: RICHARD MAMANDO
The Nippers team has been left fed up. Picture: RICHARD MAMANDO

‘Like animals in a zoo’: Nippers harrassed by tourists

A GOLD COAST Nippers club has called in police to keep over-eager, snap-happy Asian tour groups at bay after equipment damage and young kids getting upset at training.

Parents of Kurrawa Nippers claim the children aged 14 and under have had photos taken by visitors from metres away and they feel like "animals in a zoo".

Despite protests by parents and coaches - who at times have resorted to throwing water at them - tour groups continue to turn up and take close-up photos.

In some instances boards and other equipment have been damaged by tourists using them to pose.

It has become such a problem parents have now complained to the police, but say they have been told nothing can be done.

Nippers were yesterday photographed by a beachgoer. Picture: RICHARD MAMANDO
Nippers were yesterday photographed by a beachgoer. Picture: RICHARD MAMANDO

A police spokesman told the Bulletin yesterday they would work with the club: "Police are working with the community to try and resolve any behaviours with Nippers in the area.

"The issue hasn't been raised with me directly but happy to look at it and work with the club."

Nippers parent Matt Simons who also helps coach said the problem started at the beginning of the season when tour guides began parking buses near the beach during training.

"I have asked the police to do a roaming patrol but they say it is not an offence to take a photograph of a child in a public place," Mr Simons said.

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"These children are wearing swimmers. It has been happening for six to eight months, the tour guides just sit up in their vans and read a book while these guys come down to the beach.

"It is like a tour stop, we are like animals in the zoo.

"The kids are sitting there going 'Simmo, that man is taking a photo of me," Mr Simons said.

"They pick up their boards and take photos with them, there was a guy the other day he was just a metre away I could have pushed him over.

Mr Simons said he repeatedly asked the tourists to stop because they were making the children uncomfortable, but they ignored his requests.

"They walk away two metres and then turn around, I yell at them get away."

Mr Simons said he would like to see the tour groups park somewhere else during the training sessions to ensure the kids don't become a feature of the trip.

Nippers coach Nick Crilly said the problem was predominantly created by Asian tour groups which he believed were from China and the club has had to replace equipment due to damage caused by toursts sitting on it or picking it up.

"I think it is a culture difference, a lack of awareness around personal space," Mr Crilly said.

"I understand if you are from elsewhere that taking photos of clubbies training can be exciting but we need to draw a line when young kids are involved.

"Parents have spoken with police and we have spoken to tour leaders but nothing seems to make a difference.

"We do recognise it isn't our beach, we don't own it but there needs to be respect for the equipment and personal space."

Destination Gold Coast CEO, Annaliese Battista said she empathised with parents.

"Gold Coast's coastal culture is a strong drawcard for tourists. They are naturally curious about our fantastic lifestyle," Ms Battista said.

"However, I completely empathise with concerned parents who are protecting their children's privacy. Tour operators need to be sensitive to parents' valid concerns and the community's expectations.

"My sincere hope is common sense should prevail in a situation like this, with clubs and tour operators working together to discourage photographs being taken against parents' wishes."