New tourism body for North Coast

MEMBERS of the North Coast's peak regional tourism organisation are worried for their jobs but optimistic about a plan to create six new "destination networks" around NSW.

The current North Coast Destination Network will be disbanded and replaced by a new body by the end of the year.

The State Government has committed $43 million over four years to overhaul the current system and consolidate regional and rural tourism organisations under more efficient models.

Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said creating Destination North Coast, which would include the Coffs Coast, would allow the region's tourism funding to rapidly increase.

"The networks will improve industry engagement and better development of visitor experiences and products," he said.

"By investing around $10 million a year in support of the new regional initiatives we aim to bolster our efforts in attracting visitors to regional and rural NSW.

The government's rhetoric is predictably positive but glosses over the fact existing tourism boards are about to be dismantled and people will lose their jobs.

It also means the NSW Government will have tighter control over how it funds tourism projects.

North Coast Destination Network communications manager Sonia Fingleton still believed the move was in the region's best interest.

"The part we most applaud is that there is so much more money coming to regional and rural tourism," she said.

"They've simplified the funding process extensively, which is what we asked for, and will put more money into marketing the region.

"Naturally, all of us working with the current (organisation) are uncertain about our futures.

"But we know the new system is at least planned to work better for our communities."

Tourism Accommodation Australia chief executive Carol Giuseppi applauded the creation of a dedicated regional conferencing unit for Destination NSW, an initiative TAA had sought for years.



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