Bay visitor numbers ‘decimated’

With the Queensland floods drastically cutting visitor numbers, a lack of State Government support has left a major Byron Bay tourism television promotional campaign, due to be launched on Monday, sitting on the shelf.

Businesses in the town had pledged $180,000 to the My Byron Day campaign, but Byron United needs matching State Government funding through Tourism NSW before it can be rolled out.

Byron United president Sevegne Newton said the Federal and Queensland governments were already working on campaigns to encourage visitors back to Queensland holiday towns.

But Ms Newton said repeated recent requests to NSW Tourism Minister Jodi McKay for financial support had produced nothing.

She said there had been a ‘significant’ drop in business in the town since the floods and the impact was expected to extend into the year.

Byron Bay had also been affected by ‘association’ with the flooding, with some people believing the town was flooded, she said.

It was a misconception that had to be cleared up urgently.

Ms Newton said the town’s major market, day trippers and weekend stays, had been ‘decimated’ by one of the worst floods on record.

“Trade last weekend was absolutely disastrous,” she said.

“In the height of summer that’s the last thing you would expect.”

Ms Newton said that some businesses were already cutting back staff hours and there was a fear that jobs could go.

“I am concerned that as the year progresses, this is going to get substantially worse,” she said.

“We need the support of the State Government more than ever.

“The Queensland Government can see how necessary it is, but our State Government can’t seem to make decisions.”

Byron United officials will put their concerns before the chief executive and general manager of Tourism NSW, Lyndel Gray, at a meeting tomorrow at Byron Bay.

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