The NSW Government will invest AUD$43 million over four years in a major overhaul in the way regional and rural areas attract visitors, including the creation of six new Destination Networks throughout NSW.
NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events, Stuart Ayres, said the new networks will work closely with local government, tourism organisations and operators, as well as collaborate on campaigns with Destination NSW and a new Destination NSW regional division.
“The networks will improve industry engagement and better development of visitor experiences and products. Destination NSW is the state’s expert body in tourism campaigns, marketing and programs and their assistance in building the new regional networks will make a positive difference,” Ayres said.
“By investing around AUD$10 million a year in support of the new regional initiatives we aim to bolster our efforts in attracting visitors to regional and rural NSW. The NSW Government has a goal of doubling overnight visitor expenditure by 2020, and we know that regional tourism is an important driver in meeting this target.”
NSW Deputy Premier Troy Grant said establishing new Destination Networks will create more jobs in tourism, which will have flow-on positive effects for regional economies.
“Regional tourism contributes AUD$6.7 billion to our state and employs 73,900 people. This plan will boost regional investment in tourism and strengthen the operation of our local tourism bodies,” Grant said.
“Skills-based, professional boards will deliver destination management plans with a focus on attracting more visitors to our spectacular regions, supported by more quality tourism infrastructure and job opportunities.”
The four new regional destination networks are:
-Destination Riverina Murray;
-Destination Southern NSW (including the Snowy Mountains and Far South Coast);
-Destination North Coast (from Mid-Coast to Tweed Heads including Lord Howe Island); and
-Destination Country and Outback NSW.
The two Sydney Surrounds destination networks will include:
-Destination Sydney Surrounds North (including Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Hunter); and
-Destination Sydney Surrounds South (including Southern Highlands, Wollongong and Shoalhaven).
Other new initiatives include a regional conferencing unit within Destination NSW and an increase over the next four years to both the Contestable Pool of the Regional Visitor Economy Fund ($3.5 million) and to the Regional Flagship Event Funding ($4 million).
The new networks were created after consultation with 93 key industry associations and stakeholders on ways to improve the outcomes for the Regional NSW visitor economy.
Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) has welcomed the announcement, particularly the dedicated regional conferencing unit for Destination NSW, an initiative that TAA says it had been advocating for a number of years.
TAA CEO, Carol Giuseppi, said the NSW Government announcement was a very positive step for hoteliers and tourism operators in regional NSW.
“This is an excellent initiative by the NSW Government because while weekend and holiday tourism has remained strong in many regional centres, other areas have seen downturns in business travel and conferencing due to the depressed mining, manufacturing and agriculture sectors,” she said.
“NSW has an abundance of rich tourism attractions and quality hotels, and we believe that with greater promotion and support that these destinations can attract more major conferences, which have a significant multiplier effect for the wider regional economy.
“This new regional tourism initiative will put in place skills-based, professional boards that can work with Destination NSW to maximise the potential of promotional and marketing opportunities. The commitment to funding over four years will ensure the sustainability of those bodies and allow for longer-term planning and marketing initiatives.
“Regional visitor nights account for 46% of all NSW visitor nights and are therefore an essential contributor to the success of the overall NSW visitor economy. Growing regional tourism is vital if we are to promote further sustainable investment in commercial accommodation in the regions.
“The NSW Government has demonstrated clearly that it is both a friend of tourism and understands the specific issues that are affecting regional destinations and understands the benefits of business tourism to regional NSW,” she said.