Artwork for Noosa no vacancy
Artwork for Noosa no vacancy

Noosa to put up ‘full’ sign as over-tourism becomes issue

ONE of Queensland's internationally famous tourist playgrounds has been forced to put out the "full" sign as it faces being loved to death by "over-tourism".

Mayor Tony Wellington says Noosa's popularity has put it on the brink of "over-tourism".

"We are already on the cusp - we are getting a significant number of residents pushing back against the tourism industry," he said.

"We don't want to see that conflict escalate."

A sustainable tourism reference group has been formed.

The next move is to engage a university to carry out an assessment of "acceptable'' limits on popular locations such as Main Beach and Hastings St, around the national park.

The challenge was to keep local businesses satisfied without destroying the local amenity and affecting the environment.

Over-tourism is now a serious concern around the world as the number of global travellers mushrooms.

There were 1.25 billion international tourists globally in 2016, and there are expected to be two billion by 2031.

Holiday crowds pack into Noosa’s Main Beach on New Year’s Day.
Holiday crowds pack into Noosa’s Main Beach on New Year’s Day.

Places such as Barcelona, Venice, Dubrovnik and Santorini are already experiencing a backlash from locals.

The risk of over-tourism is on the radar of Queensland industry leaders but they say the Sunshine State does not yet have a problem.

Cr Wellington says he doesn't want Noosa to be first.

"The time is right to ensure we don't get to that stage that many places have reached where they are now trying to turn back the number of tourists," he said.

"The population of southeast Queensland is going to continue to grow. More and more people will want to drive into Noosa for the day."

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The Demographics Group research director Simon Kuestenmacher said as destinations became less appealing through overcrowding, the most lucrative tourists were the first to go elsewhere.

Venues entrepreneur Harvey Lister, who served on the steering committee for the Federal Government's next long-term tourism strategy, said the issue of "a social licence'' for tourism was on their radar.

Noosa as seen from the air
Noosa as seen from the air

"We've got helicopters landing on Whitehaven Beach (in the Whitsundays)," he said.

"When it comes to hundreds of helicopters landing there every day so locals or others can't get on, you have a social licence problem."

Queensland Tourism Industry Council CEO Daniel Gschwind said the sector had an "absolute'' vested interest and an important role in protecting the places and natural assets that attracted visitors.

"The benefit and contribution tourism can make to sustainability - whether the Great Barrier Reef, the Savannah or the Outback - is enormous," he said.

"Building tourism around those assets revalues them.

"Without the interest of visitors in the Great Barrier Reef it would not be as well maintained and protected as it is.

"It's only just over 50 years ago that the Reef was floated for mining exploration.

"That's unimaginable now."

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