Do a right turn and head south

IT'S cheeky, it's bold, and it's the great white hope of the local tourism industry as the Coffs Coast heads into the shoulder season of summer.

Last week the Minister for Tourism, Jodi McKay, unveiled a new billboard at the Gold Coast Airport designed to make tourists 'turn right for the North Coast'.

With forecasts indicating 2009 will be a tough time for the tourism industry, Ms McKay is hopeful the promotion will 'open up some of the beautiful natural assets' of the North Coast to the international tourist market.

“The North Coast is blessed with wonderful natural attractions such as a sparkling coast- line of beaches, and this promotion has great potential to steer international visitors to the North Coast for short-term stays,” Ms McKay said.

The focus on international tourists comes after a booming season for local operators, with accommodation sectors on the Coffs Coast sold out in January and camping areas in the Dorrigo Plateau area reporting a doubling in camping fee revenue from the previous year.

Ms McKay said the Coffs Coast continues to be a strong drawcard for tourists.

“Anecdotally I'm hearing that some operators have described this summer as the best business they have seen in a decade,” she said.

“That's why we have focused heavily this summer period on promoting the benefits of more affordable travel and holiday options within NSW, to encourage more NSW residents and interstate visitors to come and see the sights.”

The billboard will be in place until the end of March. • TOURISM Australia's Baz Luhrmann-inspired marketing campaign has been panned by a tourism industry group, which says it is doing nothing for tourism operators struggling to survive.

Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) managing director Matt Hingerty said its members were 'very disgruntled' at the government body as they took a battering from the global financial crisis.

He said many businesses felt they were on their own as Tourism Australia (TA) neglected to share its market perceptions and consult with industry.

TA managing director Geoff Buckley rebuked the claims and said the Australia campaign was vital. “In the initial stages, we've exposed Australia to something like 580 million people,” Mr Buckley said.

TA's marketing ploy follows the controversial Where the Bloody Hell Are You? campaign in 2006.

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