New hostel a family affair
By MARY MANN and FAY KNIGHT firstname.lastname@example.org THE backpacker capital of the North Coast is about to lure even more international travellers to our shores.
Byron Shire Council has approved a new 260-bed hostel for the town centre.
The development, which includes a supermarket, has been approved for construction at 1 Byron Street, behind the Great Northern Hotel.
At the same time, the council has before it proposals to turn two houses, at 15 and 17 Marvell Street, into hostels, with six and four double-bedrooms, respectively.
Some locals say the last thing Byron Bay needs is more backpackers.
However, mayor Jan Barham says the new hostel won't only be for backpackers, it'll also attract families looking for low-cost accommodation.
Cr Barham said she was not concerned younger travellers would drive out family groups.
"It's more about providing budget-type accommodation for families," she said. "When most of their time is spent out and about, really, they're just looking for a bed."
However, 17-year-old backpackers Jordan Rose, Will Bassil and Caleb Jordan, all of Sydney, said another hostel in the town would be a great thing for backpackers.
"Sometimes it's hard to get into cheap accommodation because it's all booked out, so you end up staying in a caravan park," said Jordan, who has visited Byron a couple of times before.
But the trio, who were on a trip around Australia, also said too many hostels would spoil Byron's unique community atmosphere one of the main reasons tourists made a point of stopping at the beach-side town.
Byron United president Ed Ahern said the development would attract 'high yield, low-impact tourists' because a large percentage of the rooms were double rooms with ensuites, which was more of a 'family-oriented thing'.
"That's a part of our tourism policy, getting away from the party-town image and attracting more families so that when people travel, they're not paying an enormous part of their cash on accommodation and can spend the rest on retail and restaurants," Mr Ahern said.