Residents oppose tourist drive
By SAMANTHA TURNBULL
LEIGH REES left the bright lights of Byron Bay two decades ago in favour of its sleepy village neighbour, Brunswick Heads.
Now Ms Rees and more than 50 other Brunswick residents have banded together to fight against moves that they believe could see their humble home become another tourist mecca.
"We've seen what happened to Byron Bay when they only catered to their tourists, and that's our big panic," Ms Rees said.
"Tourists brought litter, sewage and accommodation problems, and now families can't afford to holiday in Byron Bay, so they're only getting teenagers looking for parties."
The Brunswick Residents and Villagers' Organisation (BRAVO) was formed as a backlash against a new promotional campaign called Simple Pleasures, launched by the village's Business and Tourism Management Group.
To fund the campaign, the business and tourism group has applied for $15,000 from the Department of State and Regional Development.
However, BRAVO members want that money injected into in- frastructure for locals, rather than campaigns to bring unwanted visitors.
"We don't have one good public toilet or sporting facilities like a basketball hoop for the kids," Ms Rees said.
"We don't want to put Brunswick Heads on the map."
Brunswick Heads Chamber of Commerce president Todd Buckland said the Simple Pleasures campaign was not designed to attract more tourists, but to preserve the village's low-key atmosphere.
"We cannot prevent visitors from coming here down the new highway," he said.
"But we can reach the visitors who share our values and we can send a clear message to those who seek a faster or more glamorous pace, to give Bruns a miss."
BRAVO member Court Oakes said he was not convinced by the campaign's 'low key' approach.
"We don't want to completely stop people coming here, but we do want to stop the promotion to bring more people here," he said.
"Word of mouth spreads like wildfire. Let people discover Brunswick Heads themselves. That's what we had to do, and we fell in love with it."