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Byron mayor: Do we have to build a fence around ourselves?

Welcome to Byron Bay. No, not you, tourist.
Welcome to Byron Bay. No, not you, tourist.

Update, 3.45pm Friday: BYRON Shire mayor Simon Richardson has challenged the state's tourism minister to meet with him to discuss how he could help the embattled town manage its 2.2 million visitors.

"Now that's not with an open cheque book but that might be, 'is there a reason why you aren't getting the funds that you need?'," Cr Richardson said. 

"But that doesn't happen, we just get told to suck it and be grateful that it's generating jobs.

"Our community by and large aren't necessarily getting the dividend that two million visitors a year you would suggest could be producing."

Cr Richardson issued the bold invitation to Adam Marshall yesterday after comments made by comedian Mandy Nolan telling tourists to leave Byron in light of community frustrations with increasing visitor numbers.

He said the council's tourism management tried to "get people off the beaches, out of the bars and around the wider community" to ensure "Byron doesn't have to shoulder the burden".

But he said the State and Federal governments could do more to assist what he called the second biggest tourism destination outside of Sydney.

He criticised the State Government's allocation of $57 million to Taronga Zoo, which attracts 1.4 million visitors each year, after the election in 2015.

"My argument is "well, isn't Byron the same?'," Cr Richardson said.

"Do we have to build a fence around ourselves and charge admission to be eligible for that sort of funding?"

 

Original story, 5am Friday: TENSIONS between Byron Bay residents and its annual influx of 2.2 million visitors has imploded into a community crisis, with calls for tourists to go away.

Community anger has boiled over in the form of an open letter to the town's tourists, written by Byron-based comedian Mandy Nolan.

"There are people in Byron who live here, work here, shop here, send their kids to school here who find your presence rather upsetting," she wrote.

"So dear tourist, I don't want to be rude, but we need a break. So would you mind going somewhere else this year?"

Destination Byron president Peter Wotton recognised the town was "at breaking point" but said Ms Nolan's vitriolic social media post was "a bit of a Greeny point of view".

"Wherever you have a vibrant visitor economy like Byron, you will expect to see some litter, some disgruntled locals that don't like what our town has to offer to visitors," Mr Wotton said.

"We have to grin and bear it and live with it and work with it, not complain about it."

And with about 2.5 million people living within two hours of Byron, Regional Development Australia, Northern Rivers chief executive Alex Smith said cutting off visitors wasn't the answer.

"I don't think stopping tourism in Byron is feasible, people are going to visit anyway," Mr Smith said. But he said spreading the tourists throughout the Northern Rivers could "buy some breathing space".

Chamber of Commerce president Todd Sotheren said it was working to reshape the visitor economy to attract more long-term tourists aligned with Byron values.

But Mr Smith said the "elephant in the room" was ailing infrastructure along Ewingsdale Rd and traffic pressures a main concern.

Mr Smith said the "big picture" needed to be revisited, and the development of destination management plans will take into account "infrastructure choke points" in popular tourist areas.

"I would expect by the end of the year there would be a much clearer picture as to where tourist campaigns would be targeted and what the cause and effect of that will be."

Byron Shire Mayor Simon Richardson was contacted but did not respond.

Topics:  byron bay byron shire council editors picks northern rivers community northern rivers development northern rivers roads northern rivers tourism tourist



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