TOURISM across the Northern Rivers region is showing signs of improvement and the situation is looking particularly good for Byron Bay.
Once an iconic destination, the town has suffered in recent years but new figures from Destination NSW have shown a massive increase in visitor numbers for the year ending September 2011.
Domestic overnight stays in Byron increased 40% in the year ending September 2011 compared with the same time period the year before. Domestic overnight visitors were up 18% and domestic day visitors were up 11% for the same period.
Byron United president Paul Waters attributes this the Byron Naturally tourism campaign, which he says has been a huge success.
"We started it because we were desperate. Businesses were feeling the ongoing impact of the Global Financial Crisis and visitor numbers were in significant decline," Mr Waters said.
"The Byron Naturally campaign, created by Utopia Creative, is the result of many hundreds of Byron United volunteer hours, local business support and the financial contribution of Destination NSW, Northern Rivers Tourism and APN."
But there is still plenty of work to be done.
Mr Waters concedes that it is not yet time to "throw a party".
"There have been a lot of retailers going out of business and it's still tough for then," he said.
"We have a long way to go, so we need to keep moving forward. We can't become complacent."
Utopia Creative principal and campaign manager Adrian Nelson says the Byron Naturally campaign is being refined this year and will include a smart phone app with incentives for visitors.