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Bed Tax Debate and the Far South Coast of NSW

Christmas and New Year are all behind us now and we can just chill out and enjoy the holiday season.  The holiday season has a big impact in tourism towns whilst other towns slow right down.  Tourist towns become inundated with people who bring money, energy and fresh ideas into town on the upside and on the downside can overburden the town’s roads, amenities and services.  Byron Bay experienced this to the extreme on New Year’s Eve, as has been well documented in the press.  Reporting in the Sydney Morning Herald on January 5-6, Saffron Howden stated that up to 20,000 people flocked to Byron for New Year’s Eve and generated 15 plus tonnes of rubbish “We literally had thousands of people parking in their cars, sleeping in their cars in suburban areas. For a lot of residents we lost our town that night” said the Mayor of Byron shire.
The idea of a bed tax has been proposed by the local Government Minister, Don Page, as a potential solution to the problem of stretched public resources in holiday villages such as Byron Bay but this has been ruled out by the Premier, according to his spokesman.  According to the Sydney Morning Herald Mr. Andrew Jeffries, the general manager of the Tourism Industry Council NSW, said the industry wouldn’t support a bed tax but a visitor economy rate levied more broadly across businesses in each affected council area and funnelled into a dedicated fun administered by local businesses and stakeholders would be acceptable.
This year Merimbula hosted New Year’s celebrations at Ford Oval with a family focus, bands played and two lots of fireworks entranced the crowds, one at 9.30pm for the children so families could get home early and the other at the traditional hour of midnight.  Judging by the large numbers that left the oval after the earlier fireworks the event was most popular with families.  This is a turnaround from New Year’s experiences many years ago when revellers caused mayhem.  It shows that considerate action by council can turn a difficult situation around completely for the pleasure and comfort of residents and visitors alike.