Noosa Chamber of Commerce warns that scenarios in the Noosa Council Destination Management Plan could threaten Noosa Shire’s sustainability as a stand-alone local government.
“Severely limiting tourist visitation and Council interfering in the free market could have grave impacts on Noosa’s small businesses,” said chamber president Ralph Rogers. “In the current context of global uncertainty, Noosa’s businesses are already vulnerable.”
Among possible future actions offered in Council’s Destination Management discussion paper are:
• “Council’s leadership includes using specific tourism policies and values to set goals and boundaries to manage and direct industry development and set the agenda”
• “Develop a carrying capacity model to determine best use of tourism infrastructure, experiences and services” and
• “Focus only on marketing tourism businesses that align with shared community values”.
“These are too restrictive given the diverse nature of Noosa’s tourism businesses and ever changing consumer needs, and does not reflect the inclusive Small Business Friendly Charter adopted by Noosa Council in April,” Mr Rogers said.
Noosa Chamber’s submission to Council draws attention to global uncertainty, the growing South East Queensland population, and Noosa Council’s commitments on behalf of the people of Noosa Shire (the UNESCO definition of a Biosphere Reserve and Queensland Small Business Friendly Charter), all of which require the Destination Management Plan to protect Noosa Shire’s economic sustainability.
Noosa Chamber recommends the addition of a ‘Balanced Community Adaptation Scenario’ which includes sustainable growth of Noosa’s economy in tandem with any ultimately selected actions from the discussion paper.
“The State Government and Noosa Council are already planning coastal hazard adaptation based on 2040, 2070 and 2100 forecast sea level rises and storm surges,” Noosa chamber secretary Ingrid Jackson said. “It makes sense to also plan for other global impacts on our residents and their small businesses, such as more frequent and extreme weather events and more frequent global pandemics which may lead to global civil unrest and to increased migration to safe havens from war torn or inundated island countries and, domestically, from flood-prone and bushfire-prone localities.”
In April 2023 Noosa Council approved joining the State Government’s Small Business Friendly Councils Program by signing the Small Business Friendly Charter. The concurrent staff report to Council explained that “Noosa Shire is home to just over 7,000 GST registered businesses of which 58 per cent; are non-employing, 31 per cent; have 1-4 employees and 9.2 per cent; have between 5-19 employees.”
“The Destination Management Plan needs to honour Council’s commitment to the Small Business Friendly Charter which includes “actively engaging and being mindful of small businesses, their issues and priorities when making decisions”, “publicly recognising and valuing the importance of small businesses to our community and local economy” and “encouraging and promoting small business engagement via marketing and communication channels”, Mr Rogers said.
“Council’s discussion paper has failed to reflect these commitments.”
Ms Jackson pointed out, “In 2007 UNESCO recognised Noosa Shire as a Biosphere Reserve. A key UNESCO strategic objective is “Contribute to building sustainable, healthy and equitable societies, economies and thriving human settlements in harmony with the biosphere.”
The Destination Management Plan should honour UNESCO’s intended balanced approach to community, economy and environment, ensuring planned policies and actions contribute to a sustainable economy as well as social and environmental considerations.”
The Chamber president said, “Data collated by Economy ID shows that Noosa’s gross regional product (GRP) has seen no significant growth over the past 10 years and hence is not keeping pace with inflation and the cost of living in real terms. For the sake of residents, it is imperative that the Destination Management Plan ensure no economic shocks to local small businesses most of which are owned by Noosa residents.”
In relation to the opportunities and issues raised in the Discussion Paper such as traffic management and accommodation, Noosa Chamber’s submission proposes additional actions in line with its proposed ‘Balanced Community Adaption Scenario’ to prepare for global and local impacts, such as:
• Improve the road network to facilitate safe and efficient movement along main thoroughfares with linkages to park and ride sites and public transport to popular destinations.
• Facilitate construction of barely visible multilevel parking stations along transport corridors instead of sprawling tarmac car parks detrimental to the environment and visual amenity.
• Encourage and support development of five star tourist accommodation in line with the ‘value over volume’ policy.
• Exempt tourist resort unit owners from the Short Stay Letting and Home Hosted Accommodation Local Law to incentivise owners to not permanently let resort units.
• Support development of affordable housing for workers, taking innovative action as has Moreton Bay Council which is releasing public land to community housing providers immediately.
• Amend the Noosa Plan to allow relevant worker accommodation in industrial zones.
“Noosa Chamber does not support the discussion paper’s ‘Do Nothing Scenario’,” said Ralph Rogers. “Nor does it support any of the proposed future actions that would be detrimental to Noosa’s small businesses and the Noosa economy. That could endanger our residents’ financial security and Noosa Shire’s sustainability as a standalone local government area.”
To read Noosa Chamber’s full submission or to enquire about membership visit www.noosachamberofcommerce.au