MISSED OPPORTUNITY? : Increasing tourism signage around the Coffs Coast is a major talking point among key community figures.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY? : Increasing tourism signage around the Coffs Coast is a major talking point among key community figures. Manipulated image

All signs point to a better tourism plan

IS COFFS Harbour as a tourist town best marketing itself to its greatest visitor base?

Every couple of minutes, a captive of audience of interstate and international travellers sits queued at traffic lights in this, the last regional centre to be bypassed by the Pacific Highway.

With the release of the Coffs Coast Tourism Strategic Plan 2020, recent online and television tourism campaigns and public concerns over the tourist visitor information centre, The Advocate today questions how many passing motorists know of the affordable family holiday potential that lies directly to their east?

Today, we consider Coffs' tourism future while calling on readers to voice ways the city can grow its economy ahead of the upcoming local government election.

Novotel Pacific Bay Resort general manager Dene Zahner is a member of the Destination Coffs Coast Tourism Committee.

He said the Coffs Coast Tourism Strategic Plan 2020 contained various strategic directions for tourism in the region.

But the strategy recognised the proposed Coffs Harbour bypass would have "potential to create significant and adverse effects on (the city's) tourism industry, which is already facing considerable challenges".

The tourism plan states the need to start working with RMS to ensure highway signage is strategically planned should be undertaken "immediately".

It recommends the development of a five-year Destination Coffs Coast Visitor Road Signage Plan that would include way-finding signage, tourism attraction and business signage.

"Getting signage is a bit of a hard task with the RMS and there's a lot of lobbying involved," Mr Zahner said.

"Considering (the proposed bypass), new signage would be beneficial from an exposure point of view."

A RMS spokeswoman says consultation will start with Coffs Harbour City Council "shortly" for tourism-friendly signage at Woolgoolga.

Signage on the Coffs Harbour rail bridge near Bray St has been pushed for by Rally Australia and Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser previously to promote the region. Mr Fraser said one of the key points against the erection of the billboard on the bridge was driver safety.

"I think a bigger distraction to drivers is looking at the GPS on their phone or on their dash rather than a sign that says turn left to Sealy Lookout.

"I think as a tourist town, we don't do enough."

Mr Fraser highlighted tourism signage in Europe as a strong, effective example for Coffs Harbour and more broadly, NSW, to follow.

Mr Fraser also pointed to the RMS digital dashboard on the highway north of Thompsons Rd.

"Why can't we utilise that sign and also put one on both sides of our mini-harbour bridge to at least advise people of the upcoming events in Coffs Harbour, the Chilli Festival, the CurryFest," he said.

From RMS guidelines to significant costs, Mayor Denise Knight numbered a range of factors obstructing the potential to put signage on the Coffs Harbour rail bridge.

"If I had it my way, I'd love to have something there (on the bridge) to welcome people to the beautiful Coffs Coast," Cr Knight said.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation says it will assess any application for signage in accordance with its standard procedures for advertising.

Executive officer of North Coast Destination Network, Belinda Novicky, said the council's existing signposting of tourism routes from Butterfly House to Orlando St had been well executed.

Ms Novicky also said the latest Coffs Coast tourism campaign was engaging for visitors.

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