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Report highlights failing performance of NSW regional tourism

Report highlights failing performance of NSW regional tourism
November 14, 2014

A report conducted by Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) NSW reveals that many regional accommodation operators have been struggling in recent years, with the sector set to decline even further if the Federal and NSW Governments ignore the need for significant investment in regional tourism and infrastructure.

The report, Addressing the Poor Performance of the Accommodation Sector in Regional NSW, shows that regional NSW’s share of the State’s visitor nights fell to 45% of nights in 2012/13, and is predicted to decline to 40.2% by 2022/23.

The poor performance of NSW regional operators is in stark contrast to most city hoteliers, and will make the NSW Government’s 2020 objective of doubling the State’s overnight visitor expenditure challenging unless the issues impacting regional NSW are addressed.

The report shows that six in 10 visitors to regional NSW are domestic day trippers, suggesting that NSW is not maximising regional visitor stays and expenditure.

TAA acting Chief Eexecutive Carol Giuseppi said it was concerning that the tourism numbers were continuing to decline and that the NSW government’s projected tourism numbers show a dwindling regional NSW market.

Giuseppi stated “the NSW Government adopted a goal of doubling overnight visitor expenditure from $18.3 billion in 2009 to $36.6 billion in 2020, but this target is rapidly getting out of reach, because half of the expenditure has historically come from regional NSW, a market which is expected to decline steadily without serious remedial action.”

TAA NSW suggest that three major challenges need to be addressed in regional tourism:

1. Improving the Reason to Visit. Investment in tourism infrastructure is the key with the requirement for product gap audits in each region, a necessity. Our recommendation is that this process is built into the Destination Management Plans.

2. Diversifying the Visitor Profile. Business events can have a major – and very beneficial – impact on regional economies, especially to fill the mid-week troughs, which can improve the sustainability of visitor accommodation and the overall contribution to the economy. NSW needs to restore a Regional Business Events Fund (BERN), funded by a mix of state and industry, to grow the market share of business events in regional NSW. Queensland and Victoria actively support their business events sectors and NSW needs to regain lost ground.

3. Addressing Barriers to investment. This can only occur through co-ordination between state and local government planning authorities and Destination NSW to ensure barriers to growth in tourism investment – such as excessive red tape – are minimised. Consistent and reliable data in the regions is an absolute for priority for potential investors, and NSW lags behind States like Victoria which has access to strong data streams. To address this we recommend Destination NSW invests in improved and consistent data collection initiatives for the tourism sector.

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