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Talking Future Tourism, Byron Bay’s 2020-2030 Sustainable Visitation Strategy

Kitchen handbook cover

Let’s start a discussion about the future of tourism. Bonus points for using future tense. We will talk about the future of tourism.

Byron Bay started a new 10-year tourism plan process to deliver a formal Sustainable Visitation Strategy 2020-2030. Kitchen table discussions are popping up at regional events, farmers’ markets, and online. A pdf handbook is a must read for tourism nerds and a starting point for talking about overtourism, undertourism, Indigenous languages, and the value of place.

Key Links
Talking Future Tourism – Sustainable Visitation Strategy – Byron Bay Government
media release
2008-2018 Tourism Strategy (PDF)
Handbook (PDF)


  • What would locals like visitors to know about Byron Bay?
  • What are the takeaways from the previous management plan?
  • When are the next community meetups?
  • What are the attractions of Byron Bay?
  • What other cities / states / countries announce their decade-long strategies?
  • Are there upcoming live video kitchen chats?

Byron Bay recently launched its Talking Future Tourism campaign which was kicked off with a kitchen table discussion.  “We want to have an informed and in-depth conversation with our community to find out more about how they’d like to see tourism managed in the Byron Shire over the next 10 years.”

The new strategy will replace the Byron Shire Tourism Management Plan 2008 -2018<(PDF, 962KB).

Tourism trends and facts (source)
Byron Shire has a history of more than 100 years as a tourist destination. Day-trippers were first attracted to the area in the early 1900s, with camping and caravanning holidays becoming popular from 1930s. From the 1960s surfers were attracted to our shores by the excellent surfing conditions.

From the mid-1980s tourism and development activity increased rapidly, and in 2017/18, the Shire welcomed over 2 million visitors. 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.

In order to fully appreciate tourism in our Shire, here are some statistics and analysis on our tourism industry:

In 2016/17, Tourism and Hospitality generated 23% of Byron’s jobs (3,506 jobs) and 14.1% of output/sales ($463M) in 2016/17. As a sector it is Byron’s largest employer.

Output and jobs generated by the sector were equivalent to Coffs Harbour which has an economy ($3.24B) and population (74,641) more than double Byron’s ($1.56B; 32,790).

In 2017/18, Byron was estimated to have had 2.0 million visitors.

Half of Byron’s visitors stay overnight (domestic and international), compared to only 37% for the NSW as a whole, totalling 4 million visitor nights.

If the same methodology is applied to all LGAs, Byron’s ‘serviceable population’ is greater than Orange, Bathurst and Lismore.

The cost of servicing this temporary population is estimated at $23 million per year.

Recent growth has outpaced the state’s. Between 2014 and 2018, total visitation was estimated to have grown by 49% compared to 11% for NSW.

Day-trippers increased by 74% over the last decade, and domestic overnight visitors grew by 57%.

Byron’s visitation is similar to much larger cities such as Launceston and Townsville.

Byron has similar visitation to tourist destinations like the Great Ocean Road, but four times the amount of international visitors stay overnight.

Byron Bay is the 4th most visited destination in NSW and the 11th most visited in Australia amongst international visitors.

Ballina Byron Gateway Airport caters to half a million passengers each year and over the last five years was the fastest growing airport amongst Australia’s top 20.

International visitor nights are forecast to grow by 900,000 over the next decade, domestic nights by 700,000.

Private rental accommodation is more commonly used by visitors in Byron than elsewhere in NSW. In the three years to 2016/17, 17% of domestic overnight visitors used rental properties, double most benchmarks. Byron has more Airbnb listings than all but three Greater Sydney LGAs.



Byron Bay, New South Wales

Faces and Places

The Value of Place


Future Tense

2019 – International Year of Indigenous Languages

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