Ballina councillor and mayoral aspirant Sharon Cadwallader says Ballina needs to move away from ‘silo’ marketing if is to become a tourism destination on a par with Byron and Tweed. She has welcomed a report that, among other suggestions, recommends the disbanding of Northern Rivers Tourism.
The NSW Visitor Economy Taskforce ‘is a breath of fresh air for Ballina’, she said yesterday. ‘If its recommendations are followed we can aim for an increase in local tourism over the next eight years.’
According to the report, the industry felt that ‘the current structures for government funding and development of regional tourism in NSW are inconsistent and dysfunctional and that significant reform was needed if there was to be any improvement’.
The report goes on to recommend disbanding the current regional tourism organisations (RTO), such as Northern Rivers Tourism, in favour of direct funding to local industry and councils. It calls for consistent branding, and damns the lack of government co-ordination which it says ‘inhibits investment opportunities and restricts overall revenue growth’.
According to the report, Byron and Tweed Heads together are the second-most favoured tourism destination in the state – but Ballina is not even on the list.
‘We must move away from silo marketing for Ballina and work with our region to increase our share of visitor nights, including overseas visitors, Queenslanders and NSW intrastate visitors,’ she said.
The report surveyed visitors and asked them to rank their perceptions of different states. NSW was ranked fourth as a touring destination, last for unique experiences and almost equal last for ‘relax and recharge’. It was outstripped by Queensland as a destination for family holidays, coastal and beach experiences.
NSW ranked behind Tasmania, Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland as a ‘nature’ destination.
Cr Cadwallader said these findings are disastrous for shires like Ballina that need to position themselves as number one for families, nature, rest and coastal and beach experiences.
‘I am delighted the taskforce has forcefully stated the problems and put the case for reform.
‘The best thing about the report is that it shows NSW is so far behind, there is huge scope for improvement.
‘Tourism is the key to a prosperous, thriving Ballina. We have fabulous assets, and it’s time to make sure the whole world knows what wonderful experiences our shire holds for visitors of all ages, from all places.
‘Our stunning natural environment means we can aspire to attract tourists 365 days of the year. Ballina needs a visionary, energetic plan to grow our tourism, create jobs and boost lifestyles for young and old.
‘The Visitor Economy Report is the best opportunity we have had for decades. Let’s grab it and ask the state government to prioritise our town in its new plans to grow regional tourism,’ Cr Cadwallader said.
Source: Byron Shire Echo