Tourism ‘like an open-cut mine’

THE impact on Byron Bay of the huge number of visitors this festive period has resurrected debate on a tourism levy with some residents arguing the town was not bene- fiting enough from the influx.

Byron Shire comedian Mandy Nolan attracted a lot of support on social media when she remarked that she could cope with the trashing of the town easier if at least it saw more money become available to invest in infra- structure.

"You know what I don't get is that there is a trillion people in Byron Bay - shopping, drinking, eating, staying - massive dollars coming in and still this area suffers major infrastructure deficit," Ms Nolan said.

"I wouldn't mind the inconvenience and exposure to alcoholism and violence and beach trashing if at least the community got a few public parks, decent toilets, homeless shelters, things called public amenity.

"Tourism at this level is no different to living near an open-cut mine. Can't people put back somehow?"

One of the respondents, Michael, said: "Tourism (we call it Terrorism) has all but destroyed a once-beautiful small town."

NSW MLC and former Byron Shire mayor Jan Barham predicted the tourism levy debate would return to the public agenda this year and she would be interested to see the outcome.

Ms Barham said her proposal to conduct an inquiry into the tourism impacts on coastal communities in NSW was gathering a lot of support among her fellow parliamentarians.

"There hasn't been a tourism impact inquiry in NSW before, believe it or not," she said.

Ms Barham said Byron represented an extreme case of a common problem where coastal towns did not receive a big enough return on their tourists to help manage the damage they caused.

She said one of the major ongoing issues was that the Federal and State governments contributed money to marketing the region but not to managing the impact of the resulting visitors.

Ms Barham said many people were under the illusion that council benefited financially from tourists.

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