More than 160 tourism professionals will arrive on the Central Coast today ahead of the opening of Local Government NSW’s 2019 Tourism Conference at the Crowne Plaza, Terrigal.
LGNSW President Linda Scott said the conference – co-hosted by Central Coast Council and supported by Destination NSW – opens on Sunday March 17 and will focus on the new era of tourism policy and strategy.
“In 2016/17, tourism was worth $34.2 billion to the NSW economy, and the sector directly employs 171,100 people across the state,” Cr Scott said.
“That’s a great result, but with everything NSW has to offer we know can do even better.
“We’re all aiming for a new NSW tourism target of $55 billion in overnight visitor expenditure per year by 2030 – and we want to see visitors spending $25 billion of that in our state’s regional areas.
“That’s why this week’s LGNSW Tourism Conference will focus on the best ways to build our state’s tourism businesses, for the benefit of our economies and our communities.”
Cr Scott said the theme of the 2019 Conference was Experience Changes Perceptions – how great experiential travel, combined with the right technology, could completely change visitor perceptions of a region or location.
“The goal is to attract and build visitor numbers through tangible experiences in existing and niche tourism areas,” she said.
“There are unique experiences to be found right across NSW, which is why we want to entice travellers to experience rural and regional towns as well as our great cities.”
Cr Scott thanked Central Coast Council and Mayor Jane Smith for co-hosting the 2019 Conference.
“The Central Coast has a history as one of NSW’s leading tourism destinations, and the local tourism sector continues to grow,” she said.
“Between October 2017 and September 2018 alone, the Coast hosted nearly 1.5 million domestic overnight visitors who spent $521 million over the same period.
“During the same period there were 65,700 international overnight visitors to the region, who spent a total of $48 million.
“Both domestic and international overnight visitation to the area continues to grow, with the 2017-18 figures for domestic overnights up 5.8% on the previous year, and international overnights up nearly 19% over the same period.
“The Central Coast is clearly doing a lot of things right, so it is only fitting that we mark this new era of tourism strategy by holding our conference right here.”
Cr Scott said local governments played a significant role in the tourism industry: as tourism operators, destination marketers, visitor information service managers, community planners and place makers, as well as broader responsibilities such as the delivery of public infrastructure and services and the management of tourism’s impact on the environment and community.
“This is an ideal location to showcase how regional councils and the local tourism industry can plan for and gain the most benefit from the expected growth in population and tourism,” she said.
The conference will include a series of site visits for delegates, focusing on agritourism and the promotion of food trails, wedding tourism, how best to protect, celebrate and share natural spaces, and how reinvestment and gentrification can invigorate of town centres and waterfronts.