CROWD CHALLENGE: Noosa Main Beach is a tourist magnet like no other.
CROWD CHALLENGE: Noosa Main Beach is a tourist magnet like no other. Alan Lander

We need to have the right balance

From Mayor Tony Wellington

IN THE 1960s, when Arthur and Marjorie Harrold were seeking to both protect the Noosa headland from development and to prevent high-rise buildings in Hastings Street, I'm pretty sure they weren't simply focused on a successful tourism industry.

They were more concerned with protection of the environment and also with the overall living amenity in Noosa.

But it's that very living amenity that now attracts both visitors and residents to the shire.

Noosa Shire's success as a tourism locale is without doubt a product of its pioneering visionaries.

Over the years, the interrelationship between resident amenity and tourism has become more overt. Today, of course, we are a tourism success story.

According to Tourism Research Australia, the sector grossed almost $1 billion in visitor spend during 2017.

This success resonates financially across the shire.

Local businesses support other local businesses, and thousands of workers in the tourism industry spend locally.

What's more, the property owners of tourist accommodation all pay rates, often in the higher rating categories, and this money funds infrastructure and activities that benefit everyone.

However, there are also negative aspects to tourism, particularly in terms of traffic, crowding and environmental impacts.

And so we find ourselves at an interesting phase of Noosa's journey, where we must consider how best to manage our evident success.

Perhaps the biggest and most pressing challenge for our shire is to determine just what sustainable tourism means for Noosa?

We need to find the right balance between resident amenity, environmental protection and economic stability.

The answers won't come easily nor rapidly, nor will the final solutions sit comfortably with absolutely everyone.

Some businesses simply want more visitors to the shire, while some residents believe we are already being overrun, particularly with day visitors.

This balancing act is the key issue of our time.

Resident lifestyle is Noosa Council's primary responsibility and thus it should take precedence over tourist experience. But, as explained, both are intertwined.

If Noosa can get the balance right, then we can not only insure the lifestyle of our residents, but perhaps also provide practical solutions for other tourist locales.