The recently released Byron State of the Environment Report (SOE) points out that the number of visitors to Byron Bay is reaching unsustainable levels.
Drawing on information contained in a tourism options paper prepared in 2002, the report said the growing visitor levels would lead to "compromising the social, economic and environmental qualities of the town".
The report says Byron Bay attracts between 1.2 and 1.75 million visitors a year with the town attracting more international tourists (backpackers) aged between 15 and 30 than any other regional coastal town in NSW.
The SOE said it appeared the town was experiencing a level of mass tourism that was outgrowing infrastructure capacity, compromising the quality of life for residents and the area's ambience - one of the reasons why visitors came to the town.
Key issues identified in the 2002 options paper after community consultation included:
- Inadequate constraints on development
- Tourism is now "controlling" Byron Bay
- Community resistance is increasing
- Uncontrolled holiday rental in residential areas
- Unauthorised rental properties
- Lack of structured relationship between the council, tourism industry and the community.
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