The main industry on Lord Howe Island today is tourism, and most residents are involved directly through accommodation and tour services, or fishing and maintenance of lodges.
Prior to World War 1, ships operated by Burns Philp occasionally called at the Island to discharge cargo. Sometimes discharge of cargo was delayed because of adverse sea conditions and passengers came ashore to get respite from the motion of the sea. Often some passengers gladly accepted the hospitality of Islanders and enjoyed an overnight stay. By 1920 Burns Philip were quietly promoting the limited accommodation available in the homes of the Wilson family (Oceanview) and the Nichols family (The Pines, now Pinetrees).
By 1939 there were about 60 beds available for visitors. In addition to Oceanview and Pinetrees, the Dignam, Whiting and Austic families were catering for tourists. The income from tourism had reached a significant level.
The commencement of the flying boat service from Sydney in 1947 meant that access to Lord Howe was comparatively easy. Islanders responded to the increase in the number of visitors by improving and enlarging accommodation. More than 300 beds became available and at Christmas and other peak times the resident population was outnumbered by visitors.
The construction of the airstrip in 1974 resulted in the introduction of air services from Sydney, Brisbane and Port Macquarie. Today QantasLink service the Island with Dash 8 thirty-six seat aircraft. There is a variety of accommodation from self catering apartments, to guest house and luxury resort units. However most accommodation places are small, with just 20 to 40 beds.
In 1982 the Island Board limited the tourist beds to 400, and today visitors find a rare, quiet, uncrowded holiday destination to enjoy, explore and relax in. A range of quality tour services such as glass bottom boat, fishing, bird watching and guided walks are available. A network of walking tracks cover the island, for exploring on your own.