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Byron Shire
February 27, 2021

Vendetta against tourists

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Byron Bay is looking quite tacky these days. Shops are empty and there’s a general atmosphere of depression in a place that has fallen on hard times. The fallout of the Global Financial Crisis? I don’t think so.

Anyone who has wondered why Byron is in the dumps should think back and remember the campaign against tourists, which has been running here for at least the past 10 years. There were big spreads in the newspapers in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, reports in TV news bulletins and on the radio. I’m sure everyone knows which Shire-wide organisation was running this vendetta against the outside world.

The result was wholly predictable: the Australian family holidaymaker got the message and went elsewhere. You don’t see them in the streets of Byron or on Main Beach any more. They’re at Noosa, the Gold Coast, Yamba or Coffs Harbour – places where they feel welcome.

People who don’t read newspapers, watch TV news or listen to radio news grabs continued to stream into Byron. This distortion in the local tourist market turned Byron into a backpacker resort. Cheap shops and fast food outlets proliferated. Street crime increased considerably.

Businesses that used to cater for grown-ups left town. You have to go to Ballina or Lismore to buy clothing for adults. The dry-cleaners went, as did the smart hair salon under the cinema.

The overall result is a lack of vitality in the heart of the Shire, a lack of opportunity for young people and a growing sense of unease at the loss of energy in a town that used to sparkle with life.

There is an urgent need for a new spirit in Byron. The time for a change in direction is well overdue.

Ian Evans, OAM

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Fully agree with Ian Evans re the spiteful anti tourist campaigns of our shire . After a decade of deadening Byron Bay by the likes of Ian Cohen and his dark toxic green allies, this town has been dumped into a sense of uncaring anti-visitor profiling. I love Byron Bay, and walk the streets at any time and meet overwhelmingly good people who love being here. But they are not well catered for. Thank god for the many locals who live here and do care, for their voluntary commitments makes up for much of the lack of care from council inattention and downright hostility. It is time for big change, a return to cherishing life and humans as well as wildlife and wilderness. Byron has always been a place to visit, feel nourished, refresh, learn and move on. We who choose to live here should celebrate and support this, and not selfishly block off access and make people feel unwelcome. There is plenty of room here to enjoy our magnificent nature and care for residents ( including those on the waterfront) and offer a great experience to millions if visitors. Bring on the change in governance and attitude and those who live here please support. if this seems uncomfotable, there are plenty of nearby sleepy backwaters to move to where no such pressures will trouble you – and rates are much chaper too., like Evans Head, Broadwater, Rappville etc? If you live in Byron Bay region then own the responsibility to be a good caring and loving resident with so much natural bounty to share.

  2. Yes, Byron is a tacky little town now, not worth a visit. The uprise in drunken crime would stop me from walking the streets at night.

  3. I recall around the time of the Baby overboard scandal during the run up to federal elections there were alot of letters here in the echo about letting the boat people come in and being welcoming and caring and in the very same newspaper there were other letters saying we should keep the queenslanders out of byron…theyre wrecking the place…they dont spend any money.
    Even with the Blues going to Tyagarah and soon Splendour moving to Yelgun there has been a huge loss of trade and income in the town and the flow on effect has been massive.
    AND I for one never heard of a place where a busker needs a license.

    Yes Ian… you are so right!

    Boring Bay needs a change.

  4. Many towns are suffering from the lack of spending, but is this the whole story? Perhaps many are realising that we do not need to keep shopping, or they keep seeing the same stuff that they can buy in their local mall, that’s what bothers me, each town has the same stuff. The local markets seem to do well, try to find a parking spot on market day. Byron needs to be special, and maybe that will put some folk off, or maybe it will be a drawcard. Let’s try to be different, like it used to be; I remember when council tried to keep out the big chainstores. Less grog and more art, can we please have grown-up fun too. What do you want to find when you go to Byron?

  5. Even well run events such as the triathalon give spectators the impression they are unwelcome. At a crucial time in the event the public toilets were closed for cleaning. Take away food was poor and expensive. Shops were tacky. My family won’t be back.

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