Did you see that beautiful photo of Glenelg beach in The Advertiser on Wednesday? Standing there on the wide expanse of sand were three happy people tucking into a picnic of crab, mussels and prawns, glasses of wine in hand as the calm, blue sea lapped against the jetty. It looked absolutely idyllic.

It actually looked so nice it almost made me long for summer, my most detested season. How people abide sweating through 40 degree days and feeling like a wrung-out rag I'll never understand.

But anyway, looking at that lovely picture I tried to imagine the same scene without the little wooden jetty in the background, but with a massive $110 million super-jetty-shopping-centre-hotel-complex instead.

Where I saw a sweep of yellow sand and blue sky, I pictured a pile of concrete and metal with huge glass windows through which you could see people wandering around carrying plastic shopping bags.

I pictured garishly coloured signs advertising chain shops and fast food outlets and a hotel buffet.

And on top of the gentle waves I pictured big metal docks jutting out, with ferries and ships blasting their exhausts.

Somehow the picnic scene no longer seemed so idyllic.

This, I fear, is what will happen to Glenelg beach if new plans to "reinvigorate" the jetty come to fruition.

Announced this week, the proposed development will see the jetty doubled in length and widened to six times its current size to accommodate a new hotel, restaurants, shops and a ferry dock.

Opposition leader Steven Marshall has backed the plan to the tune of $20 million if he's elected, saying it will "breathe life into the area". Fans say the super jetty will be a tourism drawcard for Glenelg, turning it from an ordinary seaside strip into a "tourist mecca".

But this is what puzzles me, this constant refrain that we need a "tourist drawcard" at the Bay. People have been saying it for years; it's the reason we have the cold, windy, concrete block that is Holdfast Shores, and why Jetty Rd is crammed with trashy novelty shops.

What everyone seems to be missing is that the tourism drawcard at the Bay is the Bay.

I think we Adelaideans are so spoiled for great beaches we no longer recognise one when we see it. "Oh the sand is better at Henley," we say, or "the water is clearer at Largs". I can tell you, for most international tourists, Glenelg beach is paradise.

Last year the majority of international tourists to Adelaide came from the UK. Have you seen beaches in the UK? A picnic at an English beach is like sitting on a gravel driveway being lapped by freezing dishwater. And here is Glenelg, with its miles of soft sand and gentle, warm waves, and you can get there in just 20 minutes from the city on the tram! How perfect is that?

Yet for some reason, people seem to think wrecking the vista with a giant hotel slash shopping complex is the best way to attract visitors, as if any tourist has ever travelled to Adelaide so they can shop at Witchery or Country Road, or eat in a food court.

Funnily enough Wednesday's photo in the paper was accompanying a story about a Tasting Australia lunch, being held today, in which 300 people will enjoy a seafood banquet on long tables set up on the sand.

"It's pretty rare to be able to do something like this at Glenelg," the event organiser enthused.

Sadly if the developers get their way, it'll get even rarer.


First published in The Advertiser on April 16, 2016. CLICK HERE to read the original article.