Suzie Coulston has been appointed chair of the regional tourism authority, Northern Rivers Tourism, following the organisation’s annual general meeting in Byron Bay.

As a returning Board member and former Deputy Chair, Suzie brings a wealth of experience to the role particularly in the development of visitor services and tourism management in the Kyogle local government area.

“I look forward to working with tourism stakeholders throughout the region and beyond to highlight the profile of the Northern Rivers as a destination offering authentic experiences, practising sustainable tourism and demonstrating cross-industry partnerships,” Suzie said.

“It is important for Northern Rivers Tourism to continue to build on existing opportunities such as the Rainforest Way and National Landscapes programs and strive to make the best use of emerging opportunities that encourage domestic and international visitors to stay longer and disperse throughout the region.”

The other appointments announced by the Board are:

  • Treasurer – Colin Woodbry.
  • Deputy Chair – Brandon Saul.
  • Secretary – Kristina Drapes.

Suzie praised the efforts of retiring chair Gerd Beurich at the helm over the past three years in helping to rebuild Northern Rivers Tourism.

Following the first meeting of the new Board, the CEO of Northern Rivers Tourism, Russell Mills, said there were exciting plans for the organisation and tourism in the Northern Rivers for the years ahead.

“We have nearly five million visitors to our region spending $1.18 billion each year,” he said.

“Over the next three years we are effectively positioned to build upon that with a three pronged-strategy: strengthening our regional identity through effective marketing partnerships with local and state governments and the regional tourism and aviation industries; extending into new market segments for greater yield; and undertaking a range of industry development initiatives.

“One of those initiatives is a regional tourism development conference for the Northern Rivers tourism industry proposed for May of 2009.

“It’s our aim that this will become a flagship annual event for our industry. Several workshops, seminars and events will be held during the year to facilitate business and industry development.

“We are committed to sustainability on three fronts – environmental, economic and social.

“We must protect our wonderful natural assets to attract visitors that appreciate them; we must have economic sustainability for our industry and our wider community; and tourism must be an integral and positive contributor to the culture of our region.”

PICTURE: Board members, back, from left, Jeremy Challacombe, Brandon Saul, Bill Mabey (Tourism NSW), Lyn Parche, Gerd Beurich (outgoing chair), Suzie Coulston (Chair), Cameron Arnold, Kristina Drapes, Colin Woodbry (Treasurer). Front, Russell Mills (CEO), Carmel Beattie (TNSW).