There are a plethora of new websites promoting Byron, posting surf and beach ‘porn’ shots with dolphins leaping and turquoise water etc – they pop up daily. Facebook and Instagram are swimming in them.
They follow with a stream of followers’ posts enthusing ‘can’t wait to be in Byron’, ‘on my way’, ‘my destination this summer’, ‘I am going move there next week’, ‘I’m bringing my van and parking out the front of Wategos for summer…’
The only benefit of this time spent promoting Byron is that these websites get an enviable number of followers, which has a commercial value, as does the Byron brand, strategically chosen by these sites to promote themselves.
Locals, even in lockdown, are lamenting the fact that they can’t get a park anymore to surf, swim, or take the kids for a walk. You almost need lanes to walk to the lighthouse. It’s busy, and the majority of vehicles seem to contain a bed. There is also a whole new fleet of vehicles in town taking advantage of the ability to ‘move from’ but not ‘travel from’ Sydney.
We also have the vacuous followers of reality shows to look forward to once they air.
Surely it would be in the interests of all locals, except of course owners of these websites/ businesses, to stop posting and following these sites and giving them free content to drive even more people into the car parks.
Interestingly too, many of the photos hosted on these sites are taken from drones, which are illegal in national parks and on beaches.
Byron doesn’t need any more promotion; it needs new strategies of management that engage with visitors and locals with regard to the fragility of the environment and the interconnectivity that it is comprised of.
We need some of the local ‘Byron brand’ influencers that walk the talk to start using their creative genius to start engaging on these issues so that we develop a culture of protection rather than the need for costly signs and compliance monitoring.
It doesn’t matter how cool you are, dogs can’t be left on beaches or taken into national parks. Being a local doesn’t make you exempt, neither does having a cute dog.
The quick path that you make to get to the surf is also made by everyone else, and then suddenly the dunes are no longer a safe habitat for wildlife or regeneration. The list does on….
Finland has successfully built its entire visitation and economy around sustainability and nature. If they can do it, with some of the worst weather and coldest seas in the world, there is hope for Byron.
‘Nature is it’, and this trend is not going to change.