Regional NSW to score major conference boost

Regional NSW to score major conference boost

Regional conferences are warming up to the possibility of an extra $6 million funding from the government.

NSW Deputy Premier, Troy Grant, has pledged the generous sum on behalf of his government, under the umbrella of Destination NSW, in order to develop a Regional Conference Strategy to coexist with the tourism and hospitality industry.

The strategy, set to be finalised by May this year, will create a new business unit, whose aim will be to attract more business events to regional centres across the state.

The announcement of the Regional Conference Strategy was a commitment of the Visitor Economy Taskforce Action Plan.

And Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) has welcomed the announcement with open arms, with their key role in the Action Plan, through the publication of two reports, addressing the poor performance of the state in the accommodation sector, and urging for a strategy to rectify the problem.

TAA showed that regional NSW’s share of the State visitor nights had fallen to 45% in 2012-13, from a traditional base of around 50%, and was predicted to fall even further by 2022, to 40%, if nothing was done to boost regional tourism.

“The NSW Government has demonstrated clearly that it is both a friend of tourism and understands the specific issues that are affecting regional destinations,” TAA’s acting CEO Carol Giuseppi said.

“While many towns are doing well on weekends, the decline in business travel – and particularly meetings – over the past three or four years has affected many regional towns mid-week, and the aim of the Regional Conference Strategy is to encourage companies and organisations to hold their meetings and events in regional NSW.

“Regional centres are well-serviced by airports and in many areas have outstanding facilities – such as the new Hunter Valley Conference & Events Centre – and we believe that with greater promotion and support that these destinations can attract many more major conferences.

“There is a need to attract more overnight visitors to regional NSW. Conferences are an excellent way of achieving that, and can have a significant multiplier effect for the wider regional economy.

Giuseppi added that with lower fuel prices and the higher Australian dollar, there will be greater interest in Australian destinations as an alternative to overseas venues, so the NSW Government’s proposed investment in the business events sector was well timed and to be applauded.

Chair of Inland NSW, Rodger Powell, explained that the strategy will help drive some dollars into key towns across regional NSW, such as Tamworth, Armidale, Dubbo, Broken Hill and Bowral, which are all well placed to support conferences and business events with strong transport links and dedicated facilities.

“The Government must be commended for this initiative,” Powell said. “Once again the Government is demonstrating with action and investment that it believes in Tourism as a pillar of the new economy.”

“Regional NSW has much to offer, including business-ready conferencing facilities with capacity and cost effective conferencing solutions that provide a completely different experience from their city counterparts.”

“We look forward to working closely with Destination NSW to help develop and implement the Regional Conferencing and Events Strategy.”

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