Which way to the beach?
COFFS Coast is missing out on valuable tourism due to a lack of effective signage for tourist hot spots, according to a local business owner.
Northwall Surf and Souvenirs owner Carol Cleary said not a day goes by where she isn't answering the questions of bewildered visitors to Coffs Harbour.
"We often get people coming to the marina searching for a safe swimming beach, and since this is a key spot they expect this is where patrolled beaches are," Mrs Cleary said.
She said providing directions to a patrolled beach confuses marina visitors even more.
"I tell them go back over the railway crossing, turn right, go for a while, turn right at the roundabout, then there's a road on the right, take that, go to the end, go right again, you'll see a caravan park on the right, keep driving, then there's a laneway on the left leading to a carpark for a patrolled beach."
"You can imagine how confusing that is for someone who has never been to Coffs before."
The Advocate followed Carol's directions and noted that one sign for Park Beach was obscured by a tree, another carpark with beach access had no signage, and only a small sign for the lifesaver patrolled beach could be seen from the road.
While the patrolled area is visible from North Wall, tourists driving to Park Beach from the marina must navigate 3.3km of roads to reach the patrolled swimming spot, whereas Park Beach back to the marina is only 1.7kms by car.
"We present as a disjointed area and we should be doing everything we can to make it easy for tourists to find their way around," Mrs Cleary said.
"This is the jewel, the harbour of Coffs Harbour, but it's easier to keep driving on the highway then to discover what we have to offer."
Coffs Harbour International Marina manager Rob Galbraith said the lack of signage is costing Coffs in tourism revenue.
"There is signage on the highway but when you come into Coffs you hit all the roundabouts and there's no follow through signs," Mr Galbraith said.
Coffs Coast Marketing manager Rob Cleary said there can always be improvement in the coordination of signage.
"With the opening of the Hogbin Drive extension next month there will be increased signage," Mr Cleary said.
Mr Cleary said the challenge is to find a balance between appropriate signage and aesthetics.
"They have to be of use to the visitor, the business owner and the amenity of the area," he said.