Regional tourism hotspots in NSW to get $41.9m funding boost

REGIONAL tourism hotspots across New South Wales are primed for a $41.9 million funding increase over four years, as the State Government strives to promote areas outside Sydney.

The NSW capital was not overlooked in the State Budget, with the promise of a $75.9 million increase to its ongoing tourism spend.

But Tourism Accommodation Australia CEO Carol Giuseppe said areas like the North Coast needed a helping hand if they were to reach the government's target of doubling tourism by 2020.

"While the latest international visitor survey for 2014 showed strong in-bound growth to Sydney, many regional areas not only missed out but also experienced falls in business travel and business-related events," she said.

Ms Giuseppe said the tourism industry was vital if regional areas were to bounce back from recent downturns in mining and the effects of natural disasters.

She added Destination NSW's upcoming regional business events strategy would be an integral part of that recovery.

"Regional tourism bodies require a certainty and consistency of funding if they are to stimulate demand for visitors to their region and create an environment for visitor economy infrastructure development," she said.

"Tourism Research Australia highlighted that business events visitors make the highest contribution to overnight visitor expenditure.

"This investment is pivotal to attracting more business events - conferences, meetings, exhibitions - to regional centres across NSW during the trough mid-week periods."

Many regions experienced a downturn in business travel in 2014, but the North Coast bucked the trend with a 34.4% increase.

However the lucrative sector still only constituted 2.3% of the overall visitor share, leaving room for improvement.

Almost 4.6 million domestic overnight visitors came last year - up 6% on 2013 - including almost a quarter of all Australians who made trips to regional NSW.

International tourist numbers also grew 7.8% on the previous year to 216,000.

Restaurant and Catering Australia CEO John Hart said the State Government's funding increase was money well spent, alongside a $4.1 billion regional infrastructure spend.

"Tourism and hospitality is a $24.7 billion industry in NSW," he said. "We know that for every dollar spent in the sector, a further 90 cents is generated elsewhere in the economy."

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