Port Macquarie is expected to draw more than 160 tourism professionals to the seaside city in 2021 after its winning bid to host Local Government NSW’s (LGNSW) annual Tourism and Economic Development Conference in March.
LGNSW President Linda Scott said helping the regional tourism industry recover would be high on the agenda at next year’s conference.
“Tourism is a vital industry in NSW, especially our regions, which are home to some of the world’s most stunning attractions,” Cr Scott said.
“And Sydney continues to be an amazing drawcard for both domestic and international visitors, presenting tourism opportunities for metropolitan councils.
“In 2018-19 tourism directly contributed $17.5 billion to the NSW economy and directly employed around 183,000 people.
“These figures have obviously taken a big hit given the global impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The hope is that by 2021 the worst will be over and the tourism sector can come back strong.
“This year we’re also acknowledging the vital role councils play not just in tourism but also in economic development, encouraging and creating the conditions for appealing, vibrant and sustainable communities and strong local economies.
“Developing a strong and diverse visitor economy is just one aspect of that. Whether the local economy is based on tourism, hospitality, retail, education or other offerings, councils are actively involved in encouraging investment, place management and activation and supporting businesses of all sizes.”
Cr Scott said LGNSW’s annual Tourism and Economic Development Conference was designed to equip councils to make the most of opportunities by providing a range of industry experts in one location.
“It’s also a great opportunity for councillors and council staff to develop helpful networks and share ideas,” she said.
“Councils play 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.”
Cr Scott said the opportunity to host the annual conference was always keenly sought after, and Port Macquarie-Hastings Council had submitted a compelling winning bid.
“Port Macquarie is a fantastic tourism destination in NSW, with a range of attractions including a 9km coastal walk, eight beaches, scenic lookouts, the Billabong Koala and Wildlife Park and the world-famous Koala Hospital,” Cr Scott said.
“It is home to excellent local tourism businesses that provided an outstanding example of how to pivot in a crisis when the area’s operators adjusted their offerings to visitors following the impacts of bushfires and COVID-19.”
Port Macquarie-Hastings Mayor Peta Pinson said she was excited the seaside city would be hosting next year’s event and looked forward to showcasing everything the region had to offer.
“Port Macquarie-Hastings has long charmed the leisure traveller and today a visitor will find a welcoming community, vibrant culture, buzzing arts and food scene, and stunning coastal and country beauty,” Cr Pinson said.
“Combine this with recent major capital investments, re-vamped hotels, foreshore and coastal walk upgrades, a new university campus and new airport terminal and you have an enviable offering that I’m sure will impress attendees and contribute to a successful conference in 2021.”