Day visitors up, overnight stays down

DAY-TRIPPER numbers are up, but the number of visitors staying overnight in the Byron Shire is way down – and Byron Council is looking at ways of reversing the trend.
Chairman of the council’s Tourism Advisory Committee (TAC), Cr Basil Cameron, said a shift in the type of visitors to the region could generate significant benefits for the shire.
“A change from day-trippers to overnight visitors could not only improve moveability and parking within the towns and villages, but could see a significant increase in economic return to businesses,” he said.
Cr Cameron said the balance of a sustainable tourism industry, versus community amenity, versus maintenance of infrastructure, was a challenge the council would continue to face over the coming years.
He said with a small rateable base of just over 14,500 properties, the wear and tear on infrastructure by visitors was significant.
It was estimated that visitors accounted for 28% of the impact on infrastructure annually, he said.
Cr Cameron said the TAC was currently considering solutions through creating a community-focused branding strategy to shift the tourism mix from day visitors to overnight visitors.
“To lower wear on our built and natural environment, we need to ensure that core community values underpin the message we want to get out to all visitors,” he said.
“Council is also considering a tourism levy to raise additional revenue for infrastructure maintenance.”
Cr Cameron said there would be community consultation to gather input into the support for community branding and a tourism levy.
He said while he appreciated the community requests for a bed tax on visitors, it was not possible unless the NSW Government changed legislation.
A report to Byron Shire Council’s Tourism Advisory Committee (TAC) has noted that overall visitor numbers for the region have continued to grow over the past five years.
According to data provided by Tourism NSW via Tourism Research Australia’s National and International Visitor Survey Programs, visitor numbers have increased by 12% over the past five years.
Visitor numbers have grown from 1.3 million in 2006 to 1.46 million in 2010.
Visitor numbers are broken down into three categories including Domestic Overnight, Domestic Day and International Overnight.
Cr Cameron said the Byron Shire continued to be a favourite Australian holiday destination, with 1.46 million visitors arriving in 2010.
He said despite the tough economic platform of 2010, the total number of visitors to the shire still managed to grow by 13%.
“What is interesting to note is the growth is in the category of domestic day-trippers while the domestic overnight visitors category has decreased,” he said.
Cr Cameron said day-tripper numbers were up 35% up over the past five years and in comparison, domestic overnight visitors had decreased by 18% in the same time.
Tourism Research Australia is expected to release visitor numbers for the first quarter of 2011 soon.

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