Airport’s chance to soar with additional funding

COFFS Harbour Regional Airport has been identified as one of 30 regional airports eligible for up to $50m in NSW Government funding to support airport infrastructure projects and boost local tourism.

Minister for Regional Tourism John Barilaro and Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson announced the NSW Government would call for expressions of interest for funding from the $110m Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund.

"The tourism industry makes a significant contribution to the economy in NSW, particularly in regional areas, and we are keen to support that contribution," Mr Barilaro said.

"Improving access to regional airports has the potential to boost visitor numbers and create jobs.

"Regional New South Wales has some of the best tourist attractions in the world and I want visitors to have a great experience and come back - and then I want them telling their friends and families.

"Currently over half the international tourists visiting Australia arrive at Sydney's Kingsford-Smith Airport, yet only 20% travel on to regional New South Wales, so upgrading regional airport infrastructure has the potential to improve this."

The airport, run by Coffs Harbour City Council, is serviced by three airlines: Qantaslink, Virgin Australia and Tigerair.

It handles more than 27,000 aircraft movements per year and the terminal has about 340,000 passengers book in annually, making Coffs Harbour the 22nd busiest airport in Australia.

Qantaslink flies to and from Sydney three to six times per day, with one flight to and from Melbourne on Saturdays.

Virgin flies to and from Sydney twice a day and operates one flight to Melbourne each Saturday. Tigerair flies to and from Sydney on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays.

The Nationals Member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, said the regular passenger service opens the door for Coffs Harbour City Council to enter the Expressions of Interest (EOI) process.

"Projects will be recommended to the NSW Government by Infrastructure NSW following review by a Regional Independent Assessment Panel," Mr Fraser said.

"The competitive EOI process forms a key part of the Government's $110 million Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF).

"Regional airports play a critical role in local communities around the State, providing vital jobs and creating opportunities that facilitate regional tourism growth."

The Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce and the Coffs Harbour Tourism Association has led a strong push for the reintroduction of weekly flights to and from Coffs Harbour to Brisbane, but unlike Port Macquarie, a carrier is yet to take up the route.

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