Web success a ‘surprise'
WITH more than a million visitors each year from 204 countries, byronbay.com is the most visited tourism website on the NSW North Coast.
This year the website turns 15 and co-founder and director, Rick Slater still seems a little surprised by the site's success.
When Mr Slater and Rick Christian started the site in 1997, it featured a picture of a UFO hovering over the Byron Lighthouse.
"It was pretty wild and initially I thought I would just earn a little bit of pocket money on the side," he said.
"But I started getting emails from people wanting information about where to stay and eat and other tourist information."
So Mr Slater took time off from his job to walk the town offering businesses free listings.
"At the time people did not understand the power of the internet so the uptake was pretty low," he said.
"Only about 120 businesses took it up and they are still with us today."
The site today provides tourist information regarding festivals, events, accommodation, restaurants, weddings, activities and visitor information on Byron and the surrounding region.
"The website has grown organically over the years and everything on the site is at the request of our users.
"We don't take commissions, which I think makes us more credible," he said.
"We simply provide exposure for local businesses and organisations so consumers can easily conduct their research and then make direct contact.
"Six years ago we installed Google Analytics and now we have six years of data relating to every aspect of Byron Bay tourism.
"We share this with our clients where appropriate and use it to contribute more broadly to tourism."