Empty streets will likely be a familiar sight in Byron Bay in the coming months, with the visitor economy expected to nosedive.
Empty streets will likely be a familiar sight in Byron Bay in the coming months, with the visitor economy expected to nosedive.

Horrifying prediction of visitor economy’s COVID-19 plunge

VISITOR economy spending for the coming months is anticipated to be just one to three per cent of the typical takings in Byron Bay for this time of year.

About a week ago, Destination Byron president David Jones estimated the region's visitor economy could be down to just 20 per cent of usual spending as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19).

But the state government's bans on people leaving their homes for non-essential purposes has whittled away whatever remained.
The only 16 excuses for going out

The Government Gazette has listed the following reasonable grounds for leaving your home:

• Obtaining food or other goods and services

• Travelling for the purposes of work or education if it is not possible to do it at home, or

• Exercise

• Medical or caring reasons

Public gatherings are restricted to two people.

The gazette states: "taking a holiday in a regional area is not a reasonable excuse."

Those rules do not apply to people who are experiencing homelessness.

The strict rules aside, Mr Jones said there was "not a lot of glory in visiting Byron and staying indoors in Byron".

"There's cheaper places to do that," he said.

He's hopeful most businesses in the region will be able to bounce back after this time.

"It's just a matter of how protracted this lockdown or period of no travel goes on for," he said.

Byron Bay businesses have closed due to coronavirus (COVID-19) which has affected small business in the region.
Byron Bay businesses have closed due to coronavirus (COVID-19) which has affected small business in the region.

"I think most businesses will stay intact.

"The people that were stood down will be re-employed on the other side of this.

"They're just going to have to bunker in for the time being."

He said the travel sector in Northern NSW as "one of the most robust" markets of its kind in March and was later to be hit by the COVID-19 downturn than other areas.

"We'll be one of the first to bounce back," he said.

"I think most people will survive this."

While the federal government's announcement of a $130 billion package including JobKeeper payments was welcome to many, it's unclear how many in Byron's hard-hit visitor economy will be eligible.

 

Byron Bay businesses have closed due to coronavirus (COVID-19) which has affected small business in the region.
Byron Bay businesses have closed due to coronavirus (COVID-19) which has affected small business in the region.

Businesses with less than $1 billion in revenue can only claim the subsidy and pass it on to workers if they have a 30 per cent drop in sales (that figure's 50 per cent for businesses with more than $1 billion in revenue).

It's also restricted to staff who were working for an eligible business on March 1, are at least 16 years old and if they're casual, they must have been with the business for at least one year.

With many casuals and transient workers, Mr Jones said it's possible a large number of people affected by the downturn in the shire won't be able to access that $1500 a fortnight.

"For the locals that are casual, part time or full time workers, that's a huge bailout," he said.