Byron council gives voluntary visitor tax unanimous “yes”
A TRIAL of a voluntary "visitor tax" to raise money for beautification projects will be implemented in Byron Bay in 2014 after Byron Shire councillors voted unanimously to support the plan.
The voluntary visitor contribution scheme will be trialled from July 2014 at the council-owned caravan parks, First Sun and Suffolk Park, then assessed in 2015 after the holiday season ends.
Visitors will be invited to donate $2 when they make an accommodation booking at the caravan parks, with money raised going towards a Beautify Byron Fund to enhance public spaces.
The motion, put forward by Byron Shire Mayor, Simon Richardson, was originally intended to begin this summer, however council staff recommended it coincide with new park management contracts taking effect next year.
A six-month delay would also allow time to make any changes needed to online booking systems to receive the donations, staff said.
Cr Richardson said the council could potentially raise "significant amounts" through the fund, and would be leading the way for businesses to join in the program, adding he knew of "a couple of large accommodation providers already itching to do this".
"We have been looking at this for four years.
"We will be controlling our own destiny," Cr Richardson said.
"Most would be horrified if they thought their visit had taken something from the town.
"This is just providing a space where those who want to give a little bit back can, and if they don't, it's okay: there's no loss to us," he said.
Commending the plan, Cr Rose Wanchap said: "Even if half of our 1.7 million tourists (a year) ticked the box (to donate) we would have a lot of funds."