Prohibition could parch tourist numbers

REPRESENTATIVES from Byron Bay business groups say tourism would suffer if a ban on the service of alcohol after midnight was introduced.

Community group Last Drinks at 12 is pushing for Byron Bay's licensed venues to cease serving alcohol after midnight, presenting a four-point plan to combat violence at a self-sponsored public meeting last Saturday.

The group proposed a reduction in late-night trading hours, the formation of a Byron Bay Precinct Liquor Accord with compulsory membership and a freeze on granting extended-trading liquor licences.

Members also hope to limit the supply of high-strength drinks and prohibit the promotion of alcohol on and off licensed premises.

Last Drinks at 12 spokesman Mick O'Regan said the proposed restrictions would affect 6% of Byron Shire's licensed premises which trade after midnight.

Byron United president Paul Waters said banning alcohol after midnight would not just affect a "handful" of late-night traders but would stop tourists coming to town.

"It's not just late-night traders that would be affected, it would virtually affect every single business if apparent prohibition was introduced," Mr Waters said.

Byron Visitor Industry Association treasurer Ben Kirkwood said a small minority of people were causing the problems in town.

"While we're very concerned about the safety issues and the affect the violent reputation has on tourism ... a lot of people would be disappointed if they did not to have the opportunity to have a drink after midnight," Mr Kirkwood said.

Byron Shire Mayor Simon Richardson said alternative measures should be implemented before a plan to stop drinks at midnight was introduced.

Byron Bay Liquor Accord chairwoman Hannah Spalding said initial statistics had shown a reduction in alcohol-fuelled violence compared to this time last year as a result of voluntary actions undertaken by the Accord.

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