Sex Predator Bad For Tourism
IT'S one of the state's most popular tourist destinations
and, some argue, the location of our most committed NIMBYS.
Allegations of NIMBYism emerged again yesterday when Byron Bay
Mayor Jan Barham said there was a need to warn people of sexual
assault in the area - despite police saying the figures had not
changed in the past 12 months.
Businesses in the town yesterday feared the signs were a ploy to
drive tourists away.
One shop owner, who declined to be named, said the signs, similar
to those erected in car parks to warn of thieves, would damage Byron
Bay's backpacker trade.
"People won't come here, there is no way," she said.
"The mayor is anti-tourism."
Inspector Owen King said that despite unchanged official figures,
sexual assault counsellors and community groups had
reported an increase.
Insp King sits on an interagency committee which has developed
measures to educate visitors and locals - the committee did not
endorse the signs, a council initiative.
Ms Barham told The Daily Telegraph council had a responsibility to
inform visitors and locals, particularly after a British backpacker
was raped on Clarks Beach last month.
"Public signs are a way to let people know and it is about showing
people we care enough to let them know there may be a risk," she said.
Council sent the signs plan to a committee made up of sexual
assault experts last week.
It was asked to consider appropriate wording for the signs.
Ms Barham denied the signs were designed to discourage tourism.
She said they were among a number of measures educating people
about personal safety.
"People come here and it is a great place and it is wrong if
people come here thinking there is absolute safety," she said.
"If the signs save one person from being attacked I'd be happy
for the signs to stay there forever."
Lesley Berry, owner of The Bead Shop, said the town should
sacrifice tourist dollars to ensure women were protected.
Warnings about sexual assault could be added to a welcome
video shown to backpackers, and hostels could be given
brochures, Insp King said.
The Daily Telegraph (31-5-2005)