Everyone knows what a beautiful, natural and welcoming environment we have here on the Sapphire Coast. But what to do when you get here is the development space with a renewed focus thanks to a sizeable government grant.
Registrations for the “Tourism Future 2030” program were launched this week, with the local tourism industry to benefit from a swathe of opportunities for guidance and business improvement.
Sapphire Coast Destination Marketing managing director Anthony Osborne said the program is funded by both a federal government Regional Jobs and Investment Program grant and NSW government Eden Port activation funding, to the tune of a total $150,000.
While the program will kick off with an industry forum and networking event mid-November, it will also include a series of masterclasses and mentoring sessions for training and upskilling of tourism businesses looking to develop new opportunities.
“There has been unprecedented investment by the NSW government in promoting regional tourism,” Mr Osborne said.
“This innovative program and size of the investment is a first for regional NSW and will focus on experience development and strengthening the industry as tourism marketers.”
And it’s not all just about traditional ideas of tourism.
“There may be farmers, B&Bs, bakers or restaurants who think they’d like to have a crack at tourism,” Mr Osborne said.
“Well we want them to come on the journey with us and perhaps come out the other end as a key story for marketing this region widely.
“People always talk about the nature and the beauty of this place. But what do you do when you get here? That’s the space we’re developing with experiences, nature-based tours and accommodation, new tours on our estuaries and lakes, food and wine experiences, particularly in the oyster space.”
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The Tourism Future 2030 program launch came as the NSW government spruiked its overall tourism figures as the best in the country – with particular growth in regional areas.
The latest National Visitor Survey results, released on Wednesday, revealed in the year ending June 2018, 32.9 million domestic visitors (+9.3% on the previous year) stayed 103.3 million nights (+6.7%) and spent $19.8 billion (+15.2%).
In Southern NSW, which covers local government areas from Hilltops and Upper Lachlan through to Snowy Monaro and Bega Valley, there were 2.8 million domestic overnight visitors (+8.6 per cent on the previous year) who stayed 9.4 million nights (+12.0 per cent) and spent $1.6billion (+11.8 per cent).
Southern NSW achieved its second highest volume of domestic overnight visitors and expenditure, and its third highest in nights on record.
While a couple of regions saw growth of between 15-20 per cent, across regional NSW overall visitor numbers grew by nine per cent.
While Mr Osborne was yet to see the breakdown of the figures as they relate specifically to the Sapphire Coast, he said there was plenty of evidence of positivity in the region.
“Certainly our four-year rolling averages have shown positive growth and the line’s certainly heading up,” he said.
“All indicators are we’re remaining very competitive [compared to other regions] and that gives us plenty of confidence.”
For more information or to register for the Forum and Networking Event visit www.sapphirecoast.com.au/tourism-future-2030