The balance between tourism and the local community has always been a fraught topic, not just here in Byron. Locals don’t want to live in tourist enclaves and tourists want to be part of the local home-grown ambience. This requires a great deal of goodwill and cooperation to achieve what will always be a somewhat untidy arrangement. Just like families – an imperfect joy.
Many places around the world and in Australia have killed the goose that laid the golden egg. Some by not maintaining infrastructure [tourism studies show visitors’ behaviour is more respectful where locals have pride in their place] others have been heavy on regulation like the Gold Coast and created sterile tourist areas unfriendly to locals. These places are ultimately abandoned by both locals and visitors in search of something more authentic.
I have returned home to Byron after 17 years battling in environmental and planning policy to find the Byron character as reassuringly quixotic and colourful as it always was. Our neighbourhood is bubbling with young and old enthusiasm overshadowing any negatives. Some of the older folk maintain a tenuous hold on their properties by topping up their pensions with occasional holiday letting. Yes there are noisy parties (sometimes ours) but as our 80+ neighbour says, ‘’that’s life. They usually run out of steam or the cops come. It’s no big deal’.
I understand some locals have had a torrid time with rowdy holiday lets. The general opinion seems to be this is the exception, not the rule. Owners, agents, council and police should work together to minimise the problems. With permanent holiday lets coucil could certainly ask for a DA for the use (home-based activity) and impose conditions. Most importantly the ‘chill out’ message should be reinforced more actively including in rental negotiations and agreements. There are good ideas that work elsewhere.
It is with great alarm that I see calls for more rules and regulation as opposed to more cooperation and negotiation to manage the issues that inevitably arise in a tourist town.
I strongly believe holiday letting precincts would be a retrograde step in the very unlikely event the department of planning would allow them (unless as a segue to high-rise). Zones would be the first step towards unruly ‘anything goes’ ghettos where locals would be forced out.
I have heard counter-claims that there are no local residents left in Wategos, Suffolk Park or the grid but this denied by surprised and indignant locals. A few facts and a chill pill all round.
If the claim is we are not capable of managing holiday letting now, how will zoning help?
Dorothy Mullins , Byron Bay