14.3 C
Byron Shire
June 22, 2021

Editorial – Tourism sector unsupportive of Mayor’s visitor fund

Latest News

Appeal to locate elderly missing woman – Ballina

Police are appealing for public assistance to locate an elderly woman missing on the state's North Coast area.

Other News

Locals to fight back with a series about the REAL Byron Bay

News that Netflix was planning to film a vacuous docudrama in Byron Bay brought a collective snort of derision across the Shire.

Localisation fantasy

Boyd Kellner, Newrybar The world’s richest person, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has increased his wealth from $130 billion to $186...

Dunoon Dam from a Rocky Creek perspective

R Musgrave, Rocky Creek Here’s a simple question about the proposed new Dunoon Dam and some local observations from a long-time...


Tom Tabart, Former Byron Greens councillor It seems that I may have touched a nerve in my attempt to give...

Travel declaration required for travellers entering Queensland

Queensland Health says that all travellers from a state or territory with a declared COVID-19 hotspot (currently Victoria and from 1am Saturday, June 19 also New South Wales) are required to complete a Queensland Border Declaration Pass prior to entry.

In a league of their own

S Haslam At the end of a dusty lane, just beyond the increasingly hip area of the Mullum Industrial Estate,...

Main Beach, Byron Bay. Echo file photo.

Hans Lovejoy, editor

A Voluntary Visitor Fund (VVF) to entice the tourism sector to contribute funds to Council appears to have been a failure, according to a staff report in the June 25 Council agenda.

Spearheaded by Greens mayor Simon Richardson, the fund was adopted at the November 2013 meeting, says the report. A trial voluntary visitor contribution fund at the First Sun and Suffolk Park caravan parks, began in July, 2014.

Called the Beautify Byron Fund, its aim was ‘to provide a prioritised list of projects where the funds raised could be spent’. Other Byron Bay businesses were also encouraged take part in the fund, which would see Council be the governing body to manage the fund.

The staff report reads, ‘From 2013 to 2016 a substantial amount of work was completed on the rebranded ‘Beautify Byron Fund’. However, the program did not gain traction or enough support from the tourism industry to be financial. 

Staff say, over that time, $16,627 was collected through Council’s holiday parks.

While the mayor initiated a follow up forum in 2018 ‘with industry leaders and key stakeholders to discuss a ‘reboot’ of the Voluntary Visitor Fund’, that too, was unsuccessful.

A motion that year to progress the fund involved a consultant for three months, whose job it was to sign up businesses.

Staff wrote, ‘Owing to the lack of industry support, a luncheon was organised with five key industry leaders, the Mayor, Director of Sustainable Environment and Economy and the Tourism Officer to stimulate discussion and interest. The intent of the meeting was to invite these industry leaders to commit to the VVF and take a leadership role with industry, and encourage other businesses to be part of the program. At the meeting, all attendees agreed and pledged their support to a VVF; however, shortly after the meeting four of the businesses withdrew their support’.

So what happens from here? Despite staff recommending that councillors ‘No longer pursue a Voluntary Visitor Fund’, a councillor majority at the June 25 meeting voted to ‘defer a decision on the Voluntary Visitor Fund, until a report is presented to a Council meeting in March 2021’.

Crs Spooner, Hackett, and Cameron voted against the motion.

Other council meeting outcomes

Other decisions were made at the June 25 meeting:

A Sustainable Community Markets policy was adopted after no submissions were received. A Public Art Annual Small Grants Program was also adopted, along with the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2020-2030 and an Open Spaces Asset Management Plan. Stage one of the Cape Byron to South Golden Beach Scoping Study was adopted.

A Sustainable Catering Policy will go on exhibition, as well as the draft Operational Plan 2020/21 and a Draft Policy [for] Building in the Vicinity of Underground Infrastructure 2020.

And finally, but not only, a local event recovery fund will be established for events, using event sponsorship funds not required owing to COVID-19. Want more? Surely you do. It’s all on Byron Shire Council’s website.

News tips are welcome: [email protected]

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. Why would the tourism sector contribute to a fund while the council squanders a fortune on chasing ridiculous pipe dreams like resurrecting a pointless and unaffordable railway?

    The council should stop standing in the way of the only tourism project that really would make a massive difference in the region, especially for the hinterland villages, the Northern Rivers Rail Trail. The tourism sector, businesses both large and small as well as the general public generously contribute to these facilities at many other locations throughout the world.

    Here we have the potential to have one of the best and most popular rail trails, not only in Australia but the whole world,

  2. Who were the “five key industry leaders” and which of them pulled out after agreeing to this? What were their reasons? I think the community should know who’s making decisions for them.

  3. Greg,
    It is all too obvious that the “tourism sector ” are nothing but a self-seeking bunch of bloodsuckers, who are incapable of contributing to even their own welfare but more than happy to dismantle serious infrastructure that has been constructed and paid for by our foresighted antecedents, in order to construct a frivolous horsey/bike track that benefits no-one . As has been made obvious by the Covid virus, while the whole tourism rip-off industry is transient, optional and unnecessary the transport infrastructure has a real benefit now and in the future.
    Bring back the trains ! G”)

  4. Ken. In fact the COVID crisis makes the Rail Trail more relevant than ever for many good reasons. Firstly it provides a practical means of transport with thorough isolation that also affords numerous other positive health outcomes. Electric bicycles make it viable for virtually everyone. Far better than being trapped on trains, buses and the multiple queues waiting for connecting services, ensuring that passengers from many different places are thoroughly mixed in close proximity.

    Secondly, with international travel off the menu for who knows how long, domestic tourism on foot or cycle, again with far reduced threat of contracting COVID, is a very attractive concept. Bicycle transport is undergoing a massive renaissance. Bicycle shops can’t keep up with the demand.

    Our foresighted antecedents looked ahead for many decades but after a century, the old railway has seen out the purpose they envisaged. It has been well established that it does not and cannot meet our 21st century transport needs.

    There is negligible benefit in an old railway that doesn’t go near where the vast majority of the people in the region live, especially those without cars, nor anywhere near where most of them need to travel. Nowhere near any hospitals or universities and very few work places. That anyone believes spending hundreds of millions of dollars to resurrect this decrepit anachronism is truly bizarre. Moreover, it isn’t going to happen because nobody, government or private enterprise, is going to spend a fortune to create an ongoing financial nightmare.

    Finally you should realise that, far from being a transient, optional industry, tourism is the lifeblood of this region. The Northern Rivers Rail Trail has the potential to rapidly become one of the most popular trails in the world. Moreover, instead of overloading Byron Bay, it will bring real sustainable prosperity to the hinterland towns and villages, just as trails have done all around the world.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Climate Change, Coal and the Flushing Toilet

Sometimes I wonder why people seem to have stopped caring about climate change. Is it because it’s too big? Is it because we have a Prime Minister who is in a dirty love triangle with coal and gas? Or is it the convenience of the flushing toilet?

Entertainment in the Byron Shire for the Week Begining 23 June, 2021

A dazzling array of talent to be seen live, in and around the Byron Shire

The Sourdough Chick rises to the occasion!

When you talk to Susann Wiedermann, her passion for sourdough is clearly evident. She describes the world of sourdough as like ‘falling down a...

Frida’s Field winter menu

  If you’re thinking of a long lunch on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, out in the country with a beautiful outlook across the fields, then...