Just the ticket: Noosa’s radical plan to deal with two million visitors a year

A Noosa Council discussion paper has proposed radical ideas like imposing a booking system and restricted access to its iconic national park to try to ease the impacts of tourism on the region.

The Noosa Council Destination Management Plan follows a community survey in which most respondents said tourism was good for the region, but 84 per cent also said the influx of people disrupted their lives, especially in terms of traffic, parking and access to facilities.

Noosa has about two million visitors a year and they bring in about $1.7 billion. By far the biggest number came from Brisbane.

Surge in population

The Noosa Council has already raised concerns about Queensland government forecasts that project a surge in population in south-east Queensland of six million by 2046. That would mean fundamental changes to the face of Noosa, as well as other council areas.

Logan Council has also raised questions about how the region could meet the housing requirements with a forecast need of 900,000 dwellings.

The state government has also announced Sunshine Coast community forums to provide a further mechanism for locals to directly engage with it to identify opportunities to grow the local economy and respond to community priorities.

Noosa’s discussion paper lists four scenarios for its major issues: Do nothing; steady state (current strategy); aspirational (desired) and transformational (profound change).

Radical proposals

The last two scenarios feature the most radical proposals.

They include paid parking for visitors in Noosa’s main Hastings Street, Noosa Parade and Gympie Terrace during peak periods.

A transformational suggestion from the council was to make access to Noosa National Park along Park Road accessible only by a free bus during peak periods.

An aspirational target was to also limit traffic on Noosa North Shore for two hours either side of a high tide and to “develop a visitor pledge requiring a commitment to our community principles and Kabi Kabi cultural values to care for the shire”.

It also suggested excluding tourism businesses from its marketing if they did not align with “shared community values”.

A transformative action would be to “advocate for a restricted access and a booking system to the shire’s iconic landscapes e.g. Noosa National Park, Noosa North Shore” and the mandating of zero waste and zero emissions on all tourism operators.

Other suggestions were encouraging “the dispersal of overnight visitors” to the hinterland and reducing short-term letting in dwellings. It also suggested a shift away from event-based tourism, such as competitive events, to cultural and community events.

It also suggested attracting philanthropic contributions for environment and community development.

noosa visitors tourism

Noosa’s visitor and permanent resident numbers are expected to boom in the next two decades. Photo: Getty

Acting Mayor Frank Wilkie said communities and popular destinations around the world were having these conversations.

Evolving destination

Popular international tourism destinations such as Venice and Paris were imposing restrictions to prevent being loved to death by tourism.

“We know what we collectively value – Noosa’s natural assets and relaxed lifestyle, but we want to clarify how we can best enhance these as the destination evolves,” Wilkie said.

“Following feedback on the discussion paper, a destination management plan will be drafted reflecting views from our residents, business operators, visitors and tourism industry, which will help us grow well together with a shared vision.

“This is a future-setting conversation and we want to hear from everyone.”

This article first appeared in InQueensland and is republished here with permission

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