Port Macquarie-Hastings Council hosts tourism workshops to formulate destination management plan

Tourism boom: Port Macquarie-Hastings Council is hosting a series of workshops to formulate a new five year tourism plan. Visitation rates are growing at an average of three per cent a year over the past decade.
Tourism boom: Port Macquarie-Hastings Council is hosting a series of workshops to formulate a new five year tourism plan. Visitation rates are growing at an average of three per cent a year over the past decade.

A series of workshops will help formulate a new five year plan to drive tourism across the Port Macquarie-Hastings.

The new destination management plan was identified as a priority project by council this year.

Council director Jeffery Sharp said that visitation to the region had grown at an average rate of 3% per year, over the past ten years.

"This is a really positive result, and makes our region one of the top three destinations on the North Coast, alongside Coffs Harbour and Byron Bay," Mr Sharp said.

"A new destination management plan is needed to guide the sustainable development, management and marketing of tourism for our region over the next five years, and this was identified as a priority project for council in 2019.

"The plan will articulate a five year road map, building on the achievements of the previous destination management plan, and will consider how our region can best develop in an increasingly competitive coastal tourism marketplace."

Council will be working with sustainable tourism planning experts, Claire Ellis and Meredith Wray, who will facilitate a range of business and stakeholder engagement workshops, to inform the core strategic directions within the new plan.

Greater Port Macquarie Tourism president Janette Hyde said it was imperative that stakeholders within the tourism industry attended the workshops.

Mrs Hyde said the council plan would dovetail into a similar document established by Destination North Coast.

Things have changed in Port Macquarie - including demographic - over the last five years so it is imperative that the industry attends these workshops.

Janette Hyde

"Things have changed in Port Macquarie - including demographic - over the last five years so it is imperative that the industry attends these workshops," she said.

"This is a great time to have another look at where we are heading in tourism, what opportunities there are, what we should focus on and what people are now interested in experiencing in tourism.

"Port Macquarie has a lot of nature-based product that people can take advantage of while there are a number of great indigenous programs springing up, including National Parks and Wildlife Service and Sea Acres.

"We also have a fabulous museum which is looking at upgrading and they have just introduced a new app as well," she said.

"With so many different markets to look at, there are many opportunities available."

Mrs Hyde said along with the traditional couples and family markets, Port Macquarie could also tap into niche markets.

The tourism leader encouraged members of the tourism industry to get involved in the workshops.

Port Macquarie-Hastings has a number of wonderful natural attractions, including our beaches.

Port Macquarie-Hastings has a number of wonderful natural attractions, including our beaches.

"We have our beautiful beaches and coastal walks but there are also some beautiful scenery and walks in our hinterland," she said. "Tourism is going along very well at the moment."

In the 2017/18 financial year, 1.62 million visitors visited the region, with around half of these being day-trippers, and on average more than half of visitors staying for more than three nights.

Mr Sharp said that growing in a sustainable way is a real challenge.

"We must ensure we align with our community's vision, and protect the assets valued by both residents and visitors," he said.

"This consultation aims to identify opportunities and challenges facing tourism over the next five years, including those associated with nature-based tourism, arts and culture, heritage, hospitality, festivals and events."

The workshops will be held across the Port Macquarie-Hastings region from September 10 to 12.

An on-line survey will also be available from September 11 to 22, where local tourism business operators and stakeholders can have their say.

To find out more about the survey or to register for the workshops email tourism.marketing@pmhc.nsw.gov.au or call council on 6581 8111.

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