POPULAR SPOT: Main Beach is a drawcard for Byron Bay tourism.
POPULAR SPOT: Main Beach is a drawcard for Byron Bay tourism. Unknown

Bed tax no cure for tourist jam

BYRON BAY businessman and president of Byron United Paul Waters is calling on all levels of government to reinvest in Byron Bay.

The call comes after Local Government Minister Don Page told the media that a bed tax could help towns such as Byron develop infrastructure to cope with the influx of visitors over the New Year period.

A bed tax is a tax paid on hotel and motel room rentals, used to raise revenue for infrastructure development for tourism.

Mr Page told ABC Radio: "The reality is that the infrastructure can't cope and the question is: what do we do about it? A bed tax is definitely an option."

However, Mr Waters said a bed tax had long been considered and abandoned by the Byron business community because it would not work.

He said the large numbers of people who visited Byron at the New Year were mostly visitors or campers. Those visitors did not stay overnight or stayed in private accommodation with family and friends. Neither would pay a bed tax.

"We know you would never raise enough money to make a difference and it's hard to control and monitor," he said.

Instead, he said, it was time government re-invested in Byron.

"If the business turnover in Byron is $450 million (per year) - that is the generally quoted figure - that's $45million of GST," Mr Waters said.

There were other taxes such as land tax, stamp duty, and payroll taxes already coming out of Byron, he said.

"The government is the recipient of all this money. That money is not coming back here to be re-invested in infrastructure," he said. "Byron is already paying its fair share."

He said local government had also failed to return money to Byron Bay that it had paid as fees and levies.

"We want our fair share and we expect it in future," he said.



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