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Controversial sign at popular Aussie tourist town ignites heated debate

'People don’t come prepared to be in a small town and don’t book somewhere to stay so ask to camp on people's lawns'.

A simple, yet divisive sign has caused considerable backlash among both locals and tourists after it was erected on the edge of a property on the side of the road and shared online.

The controversial sign in Denmark, Western Australia reads "Hometown not tourist town!" and has since been removed according to the Shire of Denmark council.

While the sign may no longer be up, the debate is still raging on due to the recent steep rise in tourism in the area which, according to one local, has been climbing since the pandemic despite a lack of accommodation and "infrastructure" to support the popularity.

Left image of the sign erected on property reading 'hometown not tourist town'. Right image of the Denmark WA coastline.
The sign reading 'not tourist town' has been removed by the council. Source: Facebook/Supplied

Debate over rise in tourists in small town

Shared on Facebook on Saturday, a debate quickly ignited with hundreds reacting and many condemning the "attitude" from the sign's owner.

"As a Denmark local I am embarrassed by this sign. Please come to our beautiful town and enjoy its beauty and hospitality and support our local businesses. Please ignore the ignorant few," one local said.

"Love people who think their town would be so much better without tourists in it, when the only reason the town survives is that tourist cash," another responded.

Others agreed with the sign's sentiment though, arguing that locals of the small town in southwest WA just want to live "peacefully". "Many people are not interested in tourism dollars… that’s why they live in isolated places. [We] just want to live without drama, simply living peacefully," a person said.

"There should be a cap on how many tourists are allowed in," a local argued.

Lack of 'infrastructure' to support post-COVID 'influx' of tourists

One Denmark local and business owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Yahoo News Australia the "distance" of the town from Perth — about a five-hour drive — "put off" a lot of potential visitors in previous years.

But since COVID and the rising cost of living, people began travelling around their own country more, things have changed. "All of a sudden Denmark was discovered and we've had a huge influx of people," they said.

This Easter long weekend was no different with the local revealing visitors began arriving on Thursday and it was "continuous" all weekend — many not even booking accommodation before arriving. "People don’t come prepared to be in a small town and don’t book somewhere to stay so ask to camp on [people's] lawns," they said. "We just don't have the infrastructure to cater for the huge volume of people," they said.

While infrastructure to support the rise in popularity still needs work, the local says "you can't stop progress" and tourism is "good for the town" and "the economy".

Denmark's local council told Yahoo "Denmark is a beautiful place to visit" and has large increases of tourists over holiday periods. The Council have also announced draft plans to develop "Tourism Precincts".

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