Where’s our share of the Destination NSW events promotion?
LISTEN up, Sydney-centric Destination NSW government staff, the border of the North Rivers extends way beyond the Byron Bay local government area and plays host to significant cultural events all year round.
Residents of the Northern Rivers regularly see wonderful Destination NSW 'It's On' advertisements on TV promoting regional events, but what about our magnificent region?
While Bluesfest, the Sample Food Festival and the Mullum Music Festival are all fabulous events in their own right, much more happens around the region other than in the Byron Shire.
Every year for the past 21, the streets of Lismore come to life as 25,000 people brave the winter solstice for the spectacular Lismore Lantern Parade.
But on the Sydney and NSW Events calendar on the Destination NSW website, this magnificent community event fails to get a mention.
The annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras gets strongly promoted, but the next largest LGBTI event in Australia, Lismore's annual Tropical Fruits Festival isn't worth mentioning?
People come from all over Australia and around the world for the Tropical Fruits Festival.
Then you've got the annual Nimbin Mardigrass, the Ballina Prawn Festival, Casino's Beef Week, Evans Head Crankfest, Lismore's Eat the Street festival, the North Coast National, the Caravan and Camping show, the Woodburn Riverside Festival and the Bangalow and Kyogle Billycart derbies, just to name a few.
Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell said she had rarely noticed events in the Northern Rivers outside the Byron Shire mentioned in publications in her travels.
"My criticism for years has been Northern Rivers advertising is much too focused on Byron Bay," she said.
Lismore City Council tourism and events manager Mitch Lowe said each year Destination NSW invites events to put in an application for Regional Flagship Funding.
"A lot of those events in Byron have already got regional flagship funding this year," he said.
"Once you come out of a flagship funding period which lasts about three years you are not promoted as heavily as you should be.
Mr Lowe said the Lismore Lantern Parade was a flagship funded event many years ago.
"Now they don't receive that funding it does look as though they are invisible in many circles," he said.
"My argument has always been once an event is flagship funded the should be continued to be promoted by Destination NSW after the funding period ends."
Mr Lowe said council were looking to be involved in the Destination NSW 'It's On' campaign towards the end of this year to promote events including the Tropical Fruits Festival.
A spokesperson from Destination NSW said that Lismore and the surrounding region were widely promoted on its website, www.visitnsw.com.
"On this website we are currently promoting 74 events in the Lismore area, as well as 132 attractions and 121 accommodation providers. We are committed to promoting the entire North Coast, and ensuring potential visitors from around Australia and the World are aware of everything on offer in the region," the spokesperson said.
"Destination NSW is also proud to have secured the Australia Little League and Senior League Championships for Lismore for the next five years. These events are expected to attract more than 14,000 domestic and international overnight visitors to Lismore with a total visitor spend of $13.2 million across the five year period."