Byron Shire Council is working towards protecting its tourism market by increasing its reliance on renewable energy and cutting greenhouse gas pollution, according to mayor Simon Richardson.
Cr Richardson gave the assurance upon the release of a report warning that extreme weather caused by climate change was threatening Australia’s tourism industry.
The ‘Icons at Risk: Climate Change Threatening Australian Tourism’ report shows that beaches are listed in the top five natural destinations at risk, including locations across the New South Wales North Coast.
Beaches are listed as Australia’s favourite tourist destination and are threatened by beach erosion and rising sea levels, driven by worsening climate change.
Cr Richardson, a founding member of the Cities Power Partnership, said the council was actively working to protect Byron’s tourism by increasing its reliance on renewable energy and cutting greenhouse gas pollution.
‘The tourist industry is a cornerstone to our economy, and our beaches are a cornerstone of who we are as a local community, and through the Cities Power Partnership, we’re rolling up our sleeves to do what we can to protect our most valuable assets,’ he said.
‘That’s why Byron Shire Council is part of this initiative. We’re joining 70 other councils, representing more than 8 million Australians, supporting our community’s transition to clean, affordable and reliable renewable energy. I would encourage all New South Wales councils to do the same.’
Climate Councillor and ecologist Professor Lesley Hughes said that Byron’s booming tourism industry could be hurt, unless urgent action was taken to tackle climate change.
‘Byron’s beaches are one of the world’s top holiday destinations, but face erosion from rising sea levels, as well as coastal flooding, driven by worsening climate change unless serious cuts are made to climbing carbon pollution levels.”
‘Local councils such as Byron Shire are accelerating the community’s shift to renewable energy through programs such as the Cities Power Partnership,” she said.
‘We have the opportunity to build a sustainable tourism sector that will continue to attract millions of visitors for years to come.’
KEY REPORT FINDINGS:
- Australia’s spectacular coastline with over 10,000 beaches is beloved by national and international visitors alike and is the mainstay of the tourism industry.
- International visitors rank beaches as the No. 1 Australian attraction and an estimated 62% of international visitors visit beaches at some time during their stay.
- Sea level rise, increased coastal flooding, and associated loss of sand have important implications for the tourism and recreational value of beaches in Australia.
- Surveys of tourist responses to beach damage scenarios suggest that 17-23% would respond by switching destinations.