The NSW Business Chamber’s Tourism Advisory Council strongly backs the New South Wales Government’s decision to restructure the management of regional tourism in response to the 'Review of NSW Regional Tourism Organisations & Regional Tourism' and is confident it will help unlock the potential of the NSW Visitor Economy.

The NSW Government will invest $43 million over four years in a major  overhaul in the way regional and rural areas attract visitors for domestic short breaks, regional business events and international touring programs.
The additional funding is imperative for regional NSW to compete with interstate destinations and price driven international short haul destinations. It is also a key lever to generate product development investment in tourism experiences across the State.
Tourism Advisory Council Chair Simon Spellicy said: “The current operational framework and funding model underpinning regional tourism in NSW is not working effectively, which is why we are pleased that the Government has outlined a clear blueprint of what needs to be done to overcome the current challenges.
It is clear from recent consultation with regional tourism organisations (RTOs) that there is a complete lack of understanding and vision of how each of their own Destination Management Plans is contributing to meeting the goals set out by the Visitor Economy Action Plan.  The result is a disconnect between RTO activity and the delivery of the State’s visitor economy outcomes.
Key initiatives announced by Stuart Ayers, Minister Tourism & Major Events included:
  • Increased funding for regional tourism funding programs in NSW from $7m to $11m
  • Long-term strategic focus underpinned by the development of a state-side Destination Management Plan, mapping out the priorities for product development & marketing investment
  • 6 new Destination Networks (DNs)
  • 4 year administrative funding agreements with the DNs
  • Introduction of skills based Boards for the DNs with provision for Director remuneration 
Dean Gorddard, Executive Manager, Tourism at the NSW Business Chamber said “The ability for RTOs to focus on their core role has been curtailed by their hand to mouth financial existence at an administrative level which has also hampered their opportunity to plan long term.
“Each region has different needs in developing tourism, however the current ‘one size fits all’ approach fails to utilise the on the ground expertise of destination marketing practitioners working in the regions” Mr Gorddard said.
The NSW Tourism Advisory Council to the NSW Business Chamber submitted the following recommendations to the Review of NSW Regional Tourism Organisations & Regional Tourism
  1. Develop a strategic framework for long term regional tourism development and marketing in NSW and define the role of stakeholders including local government in regional tourism partnerships
  2. Focus on long-term “destination appeal” and “experiential” brand strategies with more weighting over short-term tactical activity
  3. Overhaul funding processes for Regional Visitor Economy Funding Program 
  4. Streamline the operational & governance structure of Regional Tourism Organisations and provide longer term financial commitment  
“The Government’s decision to streamline the current base of 11 Regional Tourism Organisations into 6 new and well-resourced Destination Networks (Destination North Coast (Including Lord Howe); Sydney Surrounds North; Sydney Surrounds South; Country & Outback; Southern NSW (Including Canberra Surrounds) and Riverina Murray) is a sustainable measure to help grow the regional visitor economy in NSW.
“We are pleased to see the Government commit to a new process to establish investment priorities under a NSW Destination Management Plan, including creating visitor and local community experiences in sync with broader infrastructure expenditure and strategic land use planning.
“A strategic Destination Management Plan framework for NSW linked to the plans across the regions is the missing ingredient needed to prioritise product development investment in new experiences for visitors and local communities.
“From a marketing perspective, the opportunity to grow overnight expenditure through domestic short breaks, special events, touring routes, international programs and business events in the context of a strategic plan is the key to unlocking regional tourism activity and dispersal of travel across the State.
“We are pleased to see the Government increase investment in regional tourism funding programs including a regional conferencing unit for Destination NSW, an increase to the contestable pool of the Regional Visitor Economy Fund ($3.5 million) and an increase to Regional Flagship Event Funding ($4 million).
This is on top of the investment in regional marketing campaigns to be undertaken, representing an unprecedented level of investment in regional tourism in NSW. Destination NSW will be well positioned to implement these changes to support growth in the NSW Visitor Economy and meet the 2020 targets,” Mr Spellicy said. 
The ability for RTOs to focus on their core role has been curtailed by their hand to mouth financial existence at an administrative level which has also hampered their opportunity to plan long term. Dean Gorddard, Executive Manager, Tourism, at NSW Business Chamber