Gerd Beurich the new head of Northern Rivers Tourism.
Gerd Beurich the new head of Northern Rivers Tourism.

A tough sell for tourism

By WILL JACKSON

GERD BEURICH has a tough job selling the Northern Rivers to the world as a destination. "The diversity between the hinterland and the coast provides fantastic opportunity, but it's also a challenge," said Mr Beu- rich. The German-born gener- al manager of the Mantra at Salt resort in Kingscliff was appointed as chair- man of Northern Rivers Tourism in December. He spent three days this week on a fact-finding mission visiting the west- ern and southern areas of his patch ? much of it for the first time. He's been talking to tourism operators, visitor information centre workers and local government staff. He said they were ask- ing for more training, co- ordination of specific pro- jects, industry education and, most of all, feedback about what Northern Riv- ers Tourism was actually doing. He said it was difficult to develop a complete plan for the region. "There's such a range of products in the Northern Rivers," he said. "From big resorts to small family business, from upmarket restaurants to small vil- lage art galleries." He said the next step was to figure out how to make best use of limited budgets. The organisation gets about $100,000 a year co- funded by Tourism NSW and member contributions.

The industry was quite patchy at present, he said, with some areas doing well while others needed a leg up. "The focus is too much on the coast," he said. "We need to get more vis- itor-ready product inland; activities and attractions focused on the needs of tourists." So how is Northern Riv- ers Tourism going to do this marketing? "No idea . . . yet," he laughed. "But that's why I'm out here."



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