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WHAT'S a good sport worth to tourism on the Coffs Coast?

How about $20 million?

That's the money which was brought in to Coffs Harbour by people visiting the city specifically to take part in major sports events in 2004.

And that does not include Coffs Harbour's single largest sporting event, the Coffs Harbour Cup carnival, itself a multi-million dollar event.

This weekend's Orara Valley Sevens and next Wednesday's Australia Day rugby league double header, which have attracted overseas teams and national sporting celebrities, are expected to add $2 million to the sporting coffers.

The head of the Coffs Harbour Sports Unit, Ben Payne, said with some big events planned for later this year, the final figure for 2005 was likely to be higher than the $20 million clocked up last year.

Mr Payne said to gain a credible figure for the impact of sports tourism, information was drawn from all sporting associations in Coffs Harbour and compiled by Sports Unit staff member Sue-Ellen Bordignon.

He said the dollar value was based on the number of competitors expected from outside Coffs Harbour plus one and a half support people for each competitor, with each person spending $100 a night, so he was confident the figures were conservative.

This year February's Triathlon is expected to be worth $1 million, the Australian touch football seniors titles in March $1.5 million, and the Group 2 junior rugby league in June $500,000.

Coffs Harbour Racing Club CEO Martin Henderson said the annual Coffs Harbour Cup three-day racing carnival in July and August brought more than 2000 visitors to Coffs Harbour.

He said if each visitor spent $200 a day on accommodation, meals, entertainment and other expenses over three days, this represented $1.2 million.

This ignores the secondary impact on the local economy from casual staff wages, food and beverages, advertising, horse feed, veterinary requirements and other spending.

Adrian Pickup, the manager of the Coffs Harbour Community Indoor Stadium, said the Park Beach Tourist Park was booked out by visitors playing in last June's FIBA Oceania international basketball carnival, which brought 250 competitors to Coffs Harbour.

This year the indoor stadium will host an event with a difference, the Australian Skipping Rope Titles in September-October, which will bring top young skippers from around the country to the Coffs Coast.

The vice-president of the Coffs Harbour Pony Club, Margaret Bruggisser, said the tourism benefits from sporting events were 'fantastic' for local groups.

The pony club is keen to see the Nana Glen equestrian sports grounds developed so more and bigger events can be held there.

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