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Byron Shire
January 21, 2022

Taking the tourism tiger by the tail

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Tourism is a key economic driver of the Byron Shire and despite the impacts of the pandemic on the industry it represents 25 per cent of the Shire’s GRP ($445m down from $850m pre pandemic).

The downside to the industry is the environmental and social impacts it can cause. We can either put our heads in the sand, which seems to be the Council’s approach, or take the tourism tiger by the tail and create a tourism industry that respects the local environment and community – sustainable tourism (ecotourism). Ecotourism is about uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel. It seems like the right fit for Byron Shire. Whereas there are several operators with various levels of ecotourism accreditation, there is no overarching strategy.

Last year I was a bit disheartened to discover that the Council decided not to seek ecotourism destination certification with Ecotourism Australia. I talked to the then Mayor, Simon Richardson, he said that it wasn’t about the concept, it was about the cost. The cost is only $15,000 to apply and $8,850 per year after that, surely a drop in the ocean for the Council, who rake in over $4m a year with paid parking, which is a direct income stream from the visitor economy.

I know local Arakwal woman and candidate in the Council election, Delta Kay, is in favour of seeking ecotourism destination accreditation for Byron Shire. I’d be interested to know if any other candidates are in favour of it. Can we get Council to take this tourism tiger by the tail and create a more sustainable tourism solution for Byron Shire?

Wendy Bithell, Mullumbimby

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