12.7 C
Byron Shire
May 14, 2021

Byron council considers opt-in visitor fund

Latest News

Michael Lyon elected as Byron Mayor

Owing to the resignation of former Mayor at the end of April, a vote was held today to replace Simon Richardson, until the next election

Other News

Echo turns 35 and You are invited!

This year The Echo turns 35, and to celebrate this momentous anniversary they are putting on The Echo Community Awards – and everyone is invited!

Any questions?

‘This is a great chance for foodies to ask me anything they want’, says local chef Darren Robertson, who...

Cocaine bust in Byron Shire, 7 men arrested

Police say two separate investigations into the ongoing supply of cocaine in the Byron Bay area have led to charges against seven men.

Re Netflix

David Gilet, Byron Bay You would have to say that the Byron district has more than its fair share of wankers,...


Gareth Smith, Byron Bay Trade Minister Dan Tehan wants to refer China to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) because he...

Locals question placing homes in areas of inundation risk

It is where the community fought off Club Med and it is once again in the spotlight as the current owners, Elements, are seeking to have the zoning of the environmentally sensitive area in Bayshore Drive changed from tourism to residential

Byron Shire Council mayor Simon Richardson. Photo supplied.

Paul Bibby

It’s a perennial question for the Byron Shire: how do we funnel some of the tourist dollars that flood the region each year into infrastructure for the community?   

A bed-tax plan has been knocked down by the state government more times than Rocky Balboa, and any proposal for new parking meters invariably has locals reaching for their placards and pitchforks.

But Greens mayor Simon Richardson believes he may have come up with a solution – a voluntary visitor fund (VVF).

It isn’t the first time the idea of a visitor fund has been mooted, of course. In 2014, Council ran a trial in which visitors to two of its caravan parks were asked to make a voluntary contribution, but received barely enough to buy a round of chai lattes.  

But the new plan – to be voted on at this week’s Council meeting – appears to be different.

Instead of giving tourists a choice about whether or not to cough up a contribution, it will simply be added to their bill if they are staying with an accommodation provider who has agreed to be part of the scheme.

The providers will be asked to sign up to the fund, and in return will be able to promote themselves as ‘good corporate citizens’ using an online video and booklets created by Council.

Cr Richardson said, ‘We’ve been speaking with industry – from five-star resorts to backpacker hostels – and the concept of the community getting a couple of extra bucks from each booking is wholeheartedly supported.’

‘There are a few we’re expecting to put their hands up straight away.’

The contribution from tourists will range from $1 to $5 per booking, depending on how much they are spending. It’s hardly a king’s ransom, but the mayor believes it will add up to a significant contribution.

According to modelling undertaken by Council staff, the VVF could reap $220,000 in its first year.

Staff predict there would also be an upfront cost of $140,000, including the cost of ‘branding’ ($50,000) and hiring an officer to administer the scheme.

Cr Richardson said that the money raised through the scheme would be used for highly visible projects such as building new playgrounds, boardwalks and change rooms.  

‘I think it’s really important that people see where the money goes because if they find it hard to see the benefit they will be less motivated to stay involved or support it,’ he said.

‘We also plan for the money to be spent where it’s raised. So if businesses in Brunswick Heads contribute $5,000, that money will be spent on a project in Brunswick Heads.’

Admin costs

Under the proposal, Council would manage the trust account and distribute the funds to various projects.

A steering committee made up of industry and community representatives would undertake promotion and marketing and bring in members from the local accommodation industry.

These members would ultimately decide how the money was spent.

‘It would essentially be a “pay to play” situation,’ Cr Richardson said.

‘The industry indicated that from the administration point of view it’s easier for Council to do it rather than reinventing the wheel by creating a whole new administrative apparatus.

‘But when it comes to decision making Council will have just as much say as the other accommodation providers.’

In the ‘staff comments’ section of the report accompanying the proposal, Council’s director of sustainable environment and economy Shannon Burt noted that there were potential financial risks associated with the scheme.

‘The potential risk to Council is the unknown amount of revenue that will be raised and potentially not being able to cover the administration costs of the program,’ Ms Burt said.

‘Also, there is still a lot of work that needs to be completed around the collection methodology and the auditing process (and the somewhat lack of transparency).

‘The Economy and Sustainability team would work through these issues with the appointed executive officer.’

Cr Richardson acknowledged there was a risk involved. ‘But the simple fact is that we need to find some way of getting money from visitors to put back into the community,’ he said.

‘If this works, it could potentially generate hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, each year for the community

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. And will all the STHLs, rural weddings/function centres and all the other non-approved providers be included in this scheme? Perhaps at double rates to compensate for their lack of other contribution? It’ll be a big data base for someone to administer.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Locals question placing homes in areas of inundation risk

It is where the community fought off Club Med and it is once again in the spotlight as the current owners, Elements, are seeking to have the zoning of the environmentally sensitive area in Bayshore Drive changed from tourism to residential

Go straight to the source on the Future Water Project

Rous County Council has announced a series of information days to be held this month where the community can ‘drop in’ and find out more about the revised draft Future Water Project 2060.

Free mental health workshop for Byron businesses

Business owners in Byron Shire are invited to attend a free 'Healthy Mindset' workshop aimed at providing them with resources and tools to improve mental health and wellbeing, as well as the opportunity to connect with other business owners.


Jillian Spring, Billinudgel In the article –  At a gathering of trainspotters, 21/4/21 by David Lisle, re Tweed Council Rail Trail, it is noted in...