The tourism industry in the Northern Rivers needs to take a lead role in investing in its own success, according to the Chief Executive Officer of Northern Rivers Tourism, Russell Mills.

“There is a view among some in the tourism industry that destination advertising and promotion is the sole responsibility of governments and tourism associations, but much more can be done to build individual businesses through co-operative marketing with like-minded operators, local government and regional and State tourism organisations,” Mr Mills said.

“The three-year, $40 million tourism strategy of the NSW Government makes it clear that it will continue to invest in the destination marketing of regional areas only where there is co-operative investment from industry.

“There is a lot of evidence that tourism regions that have industry operators who collaborate and share resources for destination promotion achieve much more than those that don’t – the Barossa, the Sunshine Coast, Margaret River and Gippsland are just a few regions that demonstrate this.”

Mr Mills believes that the activity created around the recent Repco Rally Australia by the Tweed, Murwillumbah and Kyogle business communities was an excellent example of how businesses can market themselves.

“Feedback is that those businesses that took an active part in the event have reaped considerable benefits,” he said.

Tourism in the Northern Rivers employs over 7000 people or nearly one in seven people and that doesn’t count all those who benefit indirectly.

It generates more than $1.3 billion in revenue to the regional economy, and annually the region receives 225,000 international visitors, 1.7 million domestic overnight visitors and 3.1 million day-trip visitors.

It is even more important in some shires – a recent survey in the Byron Shire showed that tourism is responsible for 30% of jobs and 35% of that shire’s revenue.

“Northern Rivers Tourism works proactively to develop and promote the region as a tourism destination,” Mr Mills said.

“Our ‘Rivers for Life’ campaign launching in the first week of October will be vital in the promotion of the Northern Rivers to our target audiences, and activities such as the first Tourism Symposium being held on 19-20 October will help our industry become more professional and proactive. Industry participation is a key ingredient for both.

“We work closely with local tourism associations, but we need more individual businesses to participate and invest in their future as well. Tourism is crucial to sustain this region’s economy.”