Convention target plan

By LEE McDOUGALL

THE lucrative convention industry is being targeted by Coffs Harbour City Council and Cr Rod McKelvey couldn't be happier.

"This is an excellent decision," Cr McKelvey said.

The decision he was referring to is that of setting up a workshop to investigate the establishment of a convention bureau.

The bureau would be responsible for marketing the Coffs Coast and its current convention facilities to the growing convention industry.

"There have been a few occasions where we have missed out on conventions," Cr McKelvey said.

"We have existing facilities, so we just have to target those markets that we already cater for."

The council, at its meeting on Thursday, examined the preliminary findings of a feasibility study into the need for a convention centre.

The study estimated a cost in the vicinity of $18.5 million for a 1000-seat centre.

"There is no way we can afford an $18.5 million convention centre. There are too many other priorities," Cr McKelvey said.

Coffs Coast marketing manager Rob Cleary said the existing convention facilities on the Coffs Coast were of industry standard.

"However, we have to look to the future because of ever-changing consumer needs and competition," Mr Cleary said.

"The first step is to make sure that what we currently have is working to the optimum and, at present, there is definitely some room for im-provement."

The council's economic development unit manager, Ms Megan Dixon, said there were a number of different approaches the council could take to better tap into the convention industry.

"In Queensland, most of the major regional centres have convention bureaus, and most are jointly funded between private enterprise and local government," Ms Dixon said.

The proposed workshop will involve the council, the tourism focus group and interested stakeholders, and will examine ways in which a convention bureau would operate.



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