Misperceptions of climate change damage coastal tourism: Case study of Byron Bay, Australia
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Local politics at Byron Bay on Australia's east coast have led to misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the likely effects of climate change on sea-level and coastal erosion. A voting bloc of self proclaimed "green" members of the local government authority (LGA) has adopted policies and planning instruments that have affected tourism by: placing severe and irrational restrictions on development of residential and holiday accommodation; reducing the opportunities for holiday letting; increasing rates and costs for businesses which provide services to tourists; and creating community division and dissent which drives away higher yield family tourists. This is occurring even though the LGA acknowledges the town's dependence on tourism. The key issue is that the LGA has prevented beachfront landowners from protecting their own properties against erosion, which the LGA now claims, incorrectly, to be due to climate change but which is in fact caused by a groyne built to protect facilities owned or managed by the LGA itself. Addressing this erosion is completely straightforward from a technical perspective, but is prevented by political powerplays. Through this political mechanism, misperceptions of climate change have hence damaged the town's tourism industry and investment, which have moved to neighbouring local government areas.
Tourism Review International
© 2007 Cognizant Communication Corporation. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.