BID TO CURB TOURIST HOONS
By MEGAN KINNINMENT
BYRON Bay is being lost to young tourists with bad attitudes, Byron Shire mayor Jan Barham has warned.
The mayor is calling for a public meeting to address the impact of tourism on the town after another summer of discontent among locals fed up with a younger, more aggressive crowd and the associated all-night parties, rubbish and vandalism.
And Byron Bay's tourism industry leaders agree, with Byron Tourism chairperson Grant Haw- kins backing Cr Barham's call.
Cr Barham said she would raise the issue at the council's February meeting.
"Never before have I heard so many people talk of leaving Byron Bay because of the lack of respect tourists are showing to the community," she said.
"Byron Bay is being treated like a theme park, a party town.
"They come here and throw their rubbish around and their behaviour is disrespectful of the community.
"It's the type of tourist we are attracting. The party attitude that's coming here is anti-social.
"The behaviour on the streets at nights makes people feel uncomfortable and the noise issue in residential areas is huge.
"We need a public meeting to engage the community and tourist operators."
Tourism Byron's Grant Hawkins agreed that the town needed to seriously look at who was visiting and their impact.
"We need to take steps to identify and discourage the types of tourists we don't want, and identify those we do want," he said.
It is this type of strategic approach that has served nearby Ballina well, Ballina Shire Council tourism manager Liz Shepherd said.
"Ballina is not as inundated with tourists and we attract a very different market from Byron," she said.
"Our target market is families or the over-50s, while Byron has the products that attract a young market."
Ms Shepherd backed Cr Barham's call for a meeting to bring the community and the industry together.
"The marketing in Byron Bay has been mismanaged and mishandled," she said.
"The industry needs to address who their market is, and honestly look at the impact that will have on the host community.
"Tourism is always a balancing act between the com- munity and the industry."