Regions say cowabunga as tourism boom swells

Regions say cowabunga as tourism boom swells


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Regional NSW in the shop window at nation's biggest trade event.

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A HUGE visitor swell picked up on Monday, and regional NSW was throwing shakas like nobody’s business.

Local businesses from Byron Bay to Broken Hill were hanging ten in the global shop window this week as the behemoth Australian Tourism Exchange rolled into in Sydney.

Let's Go Surfing founder Brenda Miley with NSW Minister for Trade Niall Blair at the Australian Tourism Exchange in Sydney this week. The expo was designed to put regional tourism operators in the shop window.

Let's Go Surfing founder Brenda Miley with NSW Minister for Trade Niall Blair at the Australian Tourism Exchange in Sydney this week. The expo was designed to put regional tourism operators in the shop window.

The trade show - the biggest event of its kind in Australia for a decade - has everything from North Coast surfing lessons, Far West offroading, and Central West wineries on display for 2500 travel industry delegates across 30 countries.

More than 130 of the 700 buyers mingling at the International Convention Centre were from China alone, a market that NSW Minister for Trade and Industry Niall Blair maintains is key to boosting the state’s $32.3 billion tourism industry.

“We’ve got all of NSW in the one room this week,” Mr Blair said.

“We’re showcasing the whole range - the outback, surfing, wildlife, farmstays… to Asian markets in particular.”

The annual Tourism Exchange brings together Australian tourism businesses, tourism wholesalers and retailers from around the world through a combination of scheduled business appointments and networking events.

Regional NSW businesses - which accounted for $15 billion of total visitor spending in 2016 - were well represented on the trade floor.

Among the maze of stalls was Scott Smith and his Tri State Safaris Outback Tours at Broken Hill.

Established in 1992, Mr Smith said the business was about offering a quality experience off the beaten track for locals and internationals alike.

“That’s our aim, to pick the standard up out there and give people something authentic,” he said.

Minister Blair dropped by Lets Go Surfing – which has schools in Sydney and Byron Bay – and who have reported a sharp rise in Chinese visitors wanting to hit the waves.

State government has previously identified regional businesses as key to growing tourism sector.

National Visitor Survey figures released last month showed locals stayed 71 million nights and spent $10.2b across bush communities in 2016 - a rise of 10 per cent.

This was on top of regional NSW growing its rate of international visitors, which was up by 11.5pc.

Of the 30 million total domestic visitors to NSW in 2016, 7 in 10 travelled to the regions.

Mr Marshall has said the boost can be put down to a bulked-up regional strategy since 2011 - and the effort to promote Sydney as a gateway to the bush - both for locals and overseas tourists.

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