Increased funding for regional tourism including the Northern Rivers is a component of the draft strategy for NSW Tourism released by Tourism Minister Matt Brown.

$10.5 million for regional tourism in additional funding over three years is long overdue, but its great news and welcomed by Northern Rivers Tourism, said the CEO, Russell Mills.

Currently Northern Rivers Tourism’s government funding is $111,000 a year and this has the potential to more than double, with the possibility of further funding where it is matched by industry and local government.
“The 13 regional tourism organisations developed for the first time a united strategy which ensures that the regions can take charge of their own destiny; this is now reflected in the draft paper and submitted to the NSW Government for approval by Cabinet,” Mr Mills said.

“The funding increase is great news as in the past, regional tourism was the stepchild of tourism when it came to funding, even though over 70% of the tourism expenditure and overnight visitation  in the domestic market takes place in regional NSW.

“The additional funding gives us a rare opportunity to build the capacity of regional tourism organisations to develop sustainable tourism strategies. Implicit to this initiative is stronger partnerships between local, regional and State tourism organisations, as well as industry participation.

“No one understands regional tourism better than the people who work and live in the regions — that’s why we have formed FORTO (Forum of Regional Tourism Organisations) and developed strategies which will improve tourism outcomes in regional NSW.”

Other components of the tourism strategy for NSW include
• Revised State Plan Target to maintain or improve NSW’s market share
• Stronger partnerships with the tourism industry
• New ‘Brand Sydney’ for use across industries and government 
• Expanded international tourism marketing, particularly into China and India 
• Expanded regional tourism focus
• Greater focus on aviation, planning, National Parks and infrastructure 
• New Tourism Industry Plan, replacing the Tourism Masterplan to be developed in the next 12 months