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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)


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