That’s what a TV and Radio personality here in Australia said after him and his son were involved in a fight with 15 or so local youths at Byron Bay.
Byron Bay is the most easterly point of Australia and is a beautiful little town by the sea. It relies very heavily on tourists for it’s money.
Rex Hunt (the TV & Radio personality) was visiting last week for a friends wedding. Rex and his son (and Rex’s wife and his son’s girlfriend) were walking down the main street when they got into the fight. Rex and his son copped a hiding by the sounds of things.
Rex Speaks Out……And Tourists Start Canceling
Being a TV & Radio personality, Rex’s fight has received a lot of coverage. Especially since Rex has spoken out about the attack – including the line “I’d Rather Visit Hell Than Byron Bay”.
And what has happened is that a lot of people booked in for holidays now perceive the area as unsafe and have cancelled. Reports vary according to what media you read but the effect has apparently been quite significant.
Awareness & Perception
There are assaults in every town in the world. The vast, vast majority don’t get reported let alone generate a lot of media coverage.
Is Byron Bay any less safe than anywhere else? I have no idea.
But the perception of many people now is that yes, it is unsafe.
And that perception comes about because people have read the story about Rex and his son.
You see, tourism is just another product. There’s a perceived risk in buying any product. Many people in the market for a holiday will now perceive the risk of getting a relaxing holiday too high and therefore not buy a holiday to Byron Bay. Or cancel their booked one.
That’s the impression. So that’s the reality for many, many people.
Reduce The Risk
What the Byron Bay council will now need to do is remove/reduce that perceived level of risk. They can do that a number of ways:
- increase police patrols
- start a strong PR campaign regarding safety on the streets
- publish statistics on the issue that show Byron Bay in a favourable light
- have the mayor start a blog on the front of the council page (part of the PR)
- get in touch with Rex and try and minimise additional negative statements
Perception is reality. And a vocal and angry TV & Radio personality can damage a small town’s tourism trade very significantly.