$40 million to attract tourists

$40 MILLION in extra funding and a new way of thinking could see tourism marketing of the Coffs Coast become a self-managed industry, according to a report released this week.
 
The O'Neill report has been eagerly anticipated by the tourism industry and Minister for Tourism, Matt Brown, said the report offers a clear message that reform is required in the way NSW tourism is promoted.

Coffs Coast Marketing manager, Rob Cleary, has welcomed the long awaited report.

"The O'Neill report recognises that NSW is not a brand but rather a destination, while the Coffs Coast is a brand known to consumers," Mr Cleary said.

The report recommends that marketing previously handled by Tourism NSW should become the responsibility of self-managed regions (SMR), a road the Coffs Coast is already on.

Mr Cleary said this recommendation reflects opportunities highlighted in the Coffs Coast Tourism Strategy, and at present an alliance between Coffs Harbour City, Bellingen Shire and Nambucca Shire Councils had been proposed.

"The challenge is collaboration and if the Coffs Coast is formally recognised as an SMR, we gain access to co-operative government funding," he said.

"We're on the ground facing issues day to day and becoming an SMR has substantial benefits because a centralised body doesn't have the same product knowledge or passion for a region."
 
Part of the new state government tourism strategy will be the creation of an 'incentive' fund to increase the promotion of areas of regional NSW enjoying tourism success and to support greater local responsibility.

But Mr Brown said no additional funds for promotion of tourism will be made available unless the industry and the government can agree on changes.

"We want a strong partnership with industry," Mr Brown said.

The first step towards implementing the reforms will be the development of a NSW Tourism Strategy within three months, which will be developed through targeted consultation with the industry and would detail how funds will be allocated.


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