Byron calls for tourism alliance
BYRON Mayor Simon Richardson is calling out to other shires hit hard by big visitor numbers to come together and lobby government for help.
With just 15,000 ratepayers maintaining local infrastructure stretched to breaking point by the more than two million visitors sweeping through last year, Cr Richardson will write to all councils in Australia inviting them to be members of a Tourism Councils Advocacy Alliance aimed at helping local governments around the country develop and promote ideas on how to manage the impact of tourism.
He said tourism numbers are expected to keep growing.
"These visitor numbers are huge - which is not a surprise given the natural beauty of this part of the world,” Cr Richardson said.
"But the impacts of this growing level of tourism on our residents, on council and on the natural environment that attracts people here in the first place, are substantial.
"Byron is one of the must-visit destinations on the bucket list of many international visitors and Australians and whilst we appreciate the contribution they make to the economy it does come at a cost.
"We only have a ratepayer base of just over 15,000 paying for the infrastructure for tourists such as roads, rubbish and public facilities and as a council we would like to talk to others in Australia about how they manage the impact of tourism.
"Byron Shire Council has decided to form the alliance because we know we are not the only council struggling with these issues and by bringing everyone together we should be able to develop some strategies, ideas and solutions for our communities.
"When councils band together, we speak with a larger voice and our proposed solutions can be easier to hear and harder to ignore.
"I believe that by sharing information, knowledge and experience councils can learn from each other and find solutions to help build resilience for communities in tourist destinations.
"The alliance could be a way of lobbying state and federal governments to address the impact of tourism on our infrastructure, or to look at ways of recovering costs from tourists or tourist-related businesses.”