Byron Shire’s Acting Mayor, Michael Lyon, launched Council’s Talking Future Tourism campaign at the Mullumbimby Farmers Market this morning (Friday 8 March) with a retro-style ‘kitchen table’ discussion that will kick off a six week, in-depth conversation with the community about how tourism should be managed.
These conversations will guide the development of a new 10 year tourism management plan called the Byron Shire Sustainable Visitation Strategy.
A Sustainable Visitation Strategy ensures that the environment and the culture of an area is considered during the development of the strategy, as well as the economic factors. It’s a framework of 41 criteria managed by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) that drives global sustainable destination, travel and tourism standards and accreditation.
“It’s no secret that Council, and the community, have been struggling to keep up with the impact of ever-growing visitor numbers over the last decade,” Byron Council’s Acting Mayor, Michael Lyon said.
“Last year more than 2 million people came to Byron Shire – the numbers are staggering.
“The popularity of Byron Shire as a tourist destination, along with its attractiveness as a sea change locality has placed strains on the Shire’s infrastructure and services. Our residents are understandably concerned about this. The tourism and business sectors also support the need for a coordinated and strategic approach to the challenges our Shire is facing.
“We know that growth in visitor numbers has brought much needed investment and vitality to the local economy but at the same time it has placed pressure on our precious natural environment and has raised a raft of issues and challenges for local residents as well as for Council,” he said.
“The question is – what do we want the next 10 years to look like?
“This is our chance to think about the concept of sustainable tourism as a foundation for decision-making, one that is committed to making a low impact on the environment and local culture, whilst supporting future employment for residents.
“But first we have to take a step back and find out what our community’s experience of tourism currently is, what issues it raises for people and how it impacts on all of our lives in both positive and negative ways.
“This is a big, complex and often emotive topic and that’s why we’ve prepared a kitchen table handbook which allows our community to deeply understand the facts and figures relevant to the tourism industry and also provides in-depth commentary on six key topics.
“We’ve also set up this process so that anyone with an interest can host their kitchen table discussion. We will set you up with the resources and a step-by-step guide so you can host your own in-depth conversation around the kitchen table with a cuppa or two with friends, family or neighbours,” he said.
Topics covered in the in-depth Kitchen Table discussions include:
Topic 1 Tourism in Byron Shire: the Facts, Figures and Trends
Topic 2 Economy and Infrastructure: Benefits and Impacts
Topic 3 Culture: Maintaining the Vibe
Topic 4 Our Unique Environment
Topic 5 Events: Local, Emerging, Celebrations and Global Festivals
Topic 6 Short-Term Rental Accommodation (Holiday Letting).
Following this community consultation process, the findings and recommendations will be presented to a group of 35 randomly selected residents in a Community Solutions Panel (CSP) who will then recommend a vision and prioritise actions to inform the Strategy development.
The 10 year Byron Shire Sustainable Visitation Strategy will be drafted by August 2019 and placed on public exhibition for comments in September/October. The draft strategy will go to a Council meeting for adoption in late 2019.
Get involved in the following ways:
Host a kitchen table discussion yourself – download the Handbook from the Council website or come in and pick up a Kitchen table Discussion pack from Council.
Or if you don’t want to host a discussion, just complete the online survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/TalkingTourismByron19 or;
Attend one of 10 Kitchen Table events, to be hosted by Council. See the website: (www.byron.nsw.gov.au/Business/Business-in-Byron/Tourism) for all the venues, dates and times.
By participating in a discussion on tourism, and submitting your completed feedback to us by 14 April 2019, you will be entered into a draw to win two one-day VIP passes plus parking to Bluesfest 2019.