Plenty of scope to increase tourism on the Northern Rivers
TOURISM is one a leading industry on Northern Rivers, bringing $1.5 billion to our economy and employing more than 7% of our workforce. But as the NSW Parliamentary Research Office recently reminded us, only 6.4% (one in 16) of domestic and international visitors to NSW come here.
Although the North Coast is Australia's third most popular tourist destination, trailing only Sydney and Melbourne, these numbers tell us there is still huge scope to entice more visitors beyond Byron and into the wider Northern Rivers region. And I have recently connected with a great team of locals dedicated to making this happen.
Destination Byron is a volunteer committee that has existed for three years and, after electing a new board, the group is geared to step into its next phase.
President of Destination Byron, Cameron Arnold, says the group has three key objectives:
- Disperse visitors across the entire region. Cameron says Byron Bay is over-loved and there's exciting opportunities for other parts of the region to enjoy the benefits of the visitor economy.
- Shift Byron away from its image as a party town and to market and promote to visitors who are more conscious about the community and environment.
- Ensure the region has the right type of infrastructure and events to achieve these first two aims.
Destination Byron also has a focus on generating jobs.
"The stronger the industry, the more career choices you have within the industry and the more we can keep our kids here," Cameron says.
One of the events made possible because of Destination Byron is the AFL Queensland AFL 9s event to be held at the Byron Regional Sport and Cultural Complex on October 11-12, bringing close to 400 competitors plus friends and families.
Destination Byron is one of the bodies Regional Development Australia (Northern Rivers) is looking forward to consulting with as part of the regional Industry and Economic Plan.
* KIMMAREE THOMPSON is the CEO of Regional Development Australia (Northern Rivers), a non-profit organisation funded by Federal and State governments as a catalyst for regional growth and innovation.