NSW MP George Souris announces a $21.6m package for regional tourism at the Eltham Valley Pantry yesterday.
NSW MP George Souris announces a $21.6m package for regional tourism at the Eltham Valley Pantry yesterday. Dominic Feain

Plan to keep visitors longer

AN AMBITIOUS program to double overnight tourism expenditure in NSW by 2020 was unveiled at the Eltham Valley Pantry yesterday by the Minister for Tourism, the Arts and Major Events, George Souris.

Alongside Local Government and the North Coast Minister Don Page and Lismore MP Thomas George, Mr Souris announced the plan backed with $21.6m funding - a record $6m boost on the previous level of regional tourism funding.

"NSW is in fact the tour- ism leader and by far and away the greatest number of gateway arrivals occur here," he told the gathering of local councillors and tourism stakeholders from across New South Wales.

"We've set ourselves a big goal. It is an extremely ambitious target and we hope we're going to get there, or get very close to it and we will not be using the excuse - even though I'm going to refer to it now - that the Australian dollar is too high and all the other excuses in the world.

"For us it's about some body who stays overnight, when they do that we then count the expenditure.

"We want them to come, stay and if we can extend them another day it's even better.

"The program has been developed to provide strategic investment into the NSW regional economy on a matched dollar-for-dollar basis to deliver products and services that support the doubling of overnight visitation and the goals of the NSW Government's Visitor Economy Industry Action Plan."

An enthusiastic Mr Souris highlighted the fact that two of his portfolios, tour- ism and the arts, were two of our biggest growth industries in terms of employment Australia-wide, particularly on the Northern Rivers.

The Regional Visitor Economy Fund program will be rolled out from July 1 this year and will provide $11.1m for regional tourism organisations, and another $10.5m to industry associations and local government on a competitive basis.

Destination NSW will begin conducting a series of 13 workshops for tourism stakeholders throughout the state in the coming weeks to explain what the funding is for and how to apply for it.



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