Downturn: Byron businesses fight back
WITH businesses struggling and tourist numbers down, Byron United president Sevegne Newton came away from meetings with senior NSW tourism officials last week more than hopeful that funding will be made available to expand the Byron Naturally marketing campaign into major Sydney and Melbourne markets.
While Ms Newton said she and BU board member John Gudgeon weren’t given any concrete promises, she was "100% positive" funding would be approved.
She was also hopeful further funding would come after planned meetings with Federal Government tourism officials.
"I am positive we are working in the right direction to achieve what we set out to do," she said.
In an email to Tourism Minister George Souris after the Sydney meetings, Ms Newton said Byron United was passionate about an economic recovery in the region through tourism and had "worked doggedly" over the past 12 months to get the Byron Naturally campaign off the ground.
She said Byron United was determined to be an % integral part in the economic recovery of the region
and the creation of opportunities for the local community, which in turn would benefit the whole state.
In response, Mr Souris said he would ensure Byron Bay "remains at the top of our thinking".
Last week’s Sydney meetings followed a big, emotion-charged BU meeting at the Byron Bay Golf Club at which members outlined concerns about the town’s sustainable future.
Ms Newton said like everywhere else in Australia, many businesses at Byron Bay were struggling and visitors had to be encouraged to come to the town, not discouraged.
She said business owners at the golf club meeting were looking for State Government support to improve the situation.
Ms Newton said the one major point that was reinforced at the Sydney meetings was that tourism would be the major driver for an economic recovery and she wanted Byron Bay to be "first in line" in that recovery.
"Tourism is in crisis here," she said. "It’s in crisis in Australia.
"We know there is a downturn, but it can be rectified.
"The Byron Bay brand is tarnished, but it’s still strong.
"There is something absolutely magical about this place. Byron Bay is absolutely unique with its amazing energy and it’s the second most iconic destination in NSW outside Sydney.
"All we need to do is get that positive message out there again."
Ms Newton said one of the major talking points at the latest BU meeting was the need for a major bypass for the town to ease traffic congestion and the frustration of visitors and local residents alike at being caught up in long traffic queues.
She said there was absolutely no other workable alternative and Byron United had written to the State Government in support of a major bypass which would support tourism.
"All we want is a viable, sustainable economy that creates opportunity for our local community," she said.