Tracey Joynson

Regional tourism and electricity should be election focus

THE NSW Business Chamber believes regional tourism must be a major election focus - and says electricity privatisation could help.

The body's tourism industry division has called on the NSW Liberal and Labor parties to commit to an "ambitious, industry-led" priority to drive the sector outside of central Sydney.

The chamber has called on the parties to sign up to create a new land use planning system to stimulate tourism, release visitor information and proceed with electricity asset leasing to "focus investment on productive infrastructure that supports tourism".

The chamber's tourism industry division executive manager Dean Goddard said NSW's tourism industry needed support.

"For far too long, land use planning has acted as a handbrake on new tourism investment," Mr Goddard said.

"We need a new planning system that prioritises tourism growth as a key objective and includes formal consultation with tourism bodies at the plan-making stage as well as more flexible zoning for tourism operations.

"If NSW is going to double overnight visitor expenditure by 2020, we need to invest in tourism infrastructure such as conference facilities, sports stadia, museums and attractions.

"Investment in airport and road upgrades and addressing regulatory restrictions such as the hourly movement on Sydney Airport to improve visitor access will also be vital.

"The tourism industry division of the NSW Business Chamber strongly supports the proposal to lease 49% of the state's electricity assets to fund essential infrastructure investment."

Labor leader Luke Foley yesterday announced $1.5 billion funding for infrastructure for regional and rural NSW as part of a "modest" infrastructure program.

He has committed to not privatising the state's electricity poles and wires, while Premier Mike Baird is taking an asset-leasing policy to the election.


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