Noosa ‘choking on its own magnetic charm’
NOOSA's much-coveted lifestyle is facing a choking death by "over tourism" according to a couple of long-term fans who are keen to bring to town a planning expert to focus on some fresh ideas
Long-time property owners and now residents Rowland Hill and Robert Brooks are looking to reschedule a planned Noosa brainstorming luncheon with former Director General of Planning for New South Wales, Professor Sue Holliday.
Prof Holliday was booked to speak of possible solutions to Noosa's crippling peak hour crowding at a venue this Friday, but a booking problem has forced a last-minute postponement.
Mr Hill is a former board member of the Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation and Noosa Longweekend lynch pin, while Mr Brooks is an accountant with strong ties to the town.
"Over tourism in Noosa will soon be on the minds of many coping with traffic congestion," Mr Hill said.
"This prospect was on our minds when we invited Professor Sue Holliday to outline impacts of over tourism elsewhere, how the impacts were addressed and the relevance of those solutions to Noosa.
"Prof Holliday's invitation followed Mayor Tony Wellington's comment to a newspaper that Noosa was facing potential over tourism thanks to the population growth on its doorstep," he said.
The mayor said there will be 200,000 more people at the southern end of the Sunshine Coast, and close to two million people across southeast Queensland, "inevitably generating more Noosa day trippers".
Mr Hill said of real concern is Tourism Noosa's plans to boost the numbers of visitors to Noosa by 1600 a day by 2022, including a 23 per cent increase each January and 31 per cent each Easter.
"Never mind that half Noosa's visitors come by car and council surveys show there are no carparking vacancies available in the tourist areas at peak times now," Mr Hill said.
"A survey by Tourism Noosa itself earlier this year found that eight out of ten Noosa residents say their lives are disrupted by traffic congestion and parking, seven out of 10 are concerned at tourism's environmental impacts, and one in five either disapproves of tourism or has no view.
"It's not clear whether those surveyed were aware of the visitor stimulation already in the pipeline for southeast Queensland and the Sunshine Coast, including the Sunshine Coast airport expansion, and the growth plans of Tourism Noosa."
Mr Hill said he and Mr Brooks are not against tourism, which employs one in nine Noosa residents, but "is no longer the biggest contributor to Noosa's economy as sometimes claimed"
"We are against over tourism. The World Tourism Organisation has identified five indicators of over tourism and Noosa exhibits all of them," he said.
"We don't know what the solution for tourism is in Noosa, but what we do know is there is a vacuum in information that's reaching the community.
"We do know that every day over the peak periods, we have intense congestion in this town," Mr Hill said.
Mr Hill's comments echo the views of Noosa Shire Residents and Ratepayers Association president Adrian Williams.
"Many are aware that Noosa is facing a risk of over tourism in the near future, the traffic congestion and parking problems in the tourist precincts shows that," Mr Williams said.
"If unresolved they will choke the town, impacting businesses and residents.
"Promoting more visitors before this is fixed will make it worse … any efforts to address this problem should be applauded."