Australian surfer Mick Fanning.
Australian surfer Mick Fanning. AAP

Tourists to hit surfing trail

THE Northern Rivers will feature as the highlight of a new NSW 'surfing trail' being planned to draw a new breed of domestic and international tourists to the State, NSW Tourism Minister Jodi McKay said yesterday.

The surfing trail was one of several ideas Ms McKay flagged or announced during yesterday's first Northern Rivers Tourism Symposium at the Byron at Byron resort.

Others included:

  • A $300,000 promotion campaign to boost local tourism after the floods and storms that rocked the industry during the first half of the year;
  • An $18 million partnership with Jetstar to promote the Ballina, Coolangatta and Newcastle airports; and
  • A co-operative partnership with Coolangatta Airport and Queensland Tourism to market the natural beauty of the Northern Rivers and the glitz of the Gold Coast together.

Ms McKay said the NSW Government recognised that the Northern Rivers was a cornerstone of the State's tourism market, saying it attracted 4.9 million visitors who spent a combined $1.3 billion.

Northern Rivers Tourism chief executive Russell Mills said about 100 mostly small and medium-sized local tourist operators yesterday took time from their businesses for the first day of the two-day symposium.

“We hope they're taking away a sense that coming to industry events and supporting industry events is good for them,” Mr Mills said.

The symposium included talks by the likes of STA Travel co-founder Dick Porter and Qantas chief economist Dr Tony Webber. However, Mr Mills said the symposium went well beyond the words of luminaries, with a strong practical component aimed at directly helping tourist operators improve their businesses.

The symposium kicks off again today just after 9am with an address by Professor Kerry Brown, of Southern Cross University's School of Tourism and Hospitality Management.

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