Destinations NSW eyes grounded international travellers for North Coast tourism market

Marketing jewel: Tacking Point Lighthouse is one of the many features that attracts visitors to Port Macquarie.

Marketing jewel: Tacking Point Lighthouse is one of the many features that attracts visitors to Port Macquarie.

In the 12 months to March 2019, Australians spent about $60 billion on international travel with around ten million travel movements during that timeframe.

With international borders all but closed and states and territories at various stages of lockdown, the state's peak tourism marketing arm, Destination NSW is closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister for jobs, investment, tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres says the state government, through Destination NSW, is aware of the "opportunity" that presents in attracting holidaymakers.

"We are constantly reviewing and adapting our tourism marketing programs in response to the changing conditions and health advice," Mr Ayres said.

"With ongoing restrictions on international travel, there's definitely an opportunity for NSW to entice domestic visitors to plan future holidays right across our great state, including the North Coast.

"NSW residents alone took almost two million international leisure trips worth $16.7 billion last year.

"We will be doing our best to inspire and capture the imagination of those travellers to embrace the world-class experiences right here in NSW."

Award-winning tourism operator Chris Denny is the founding board member - and vice president - of the Greater Port Macquarie Tourism Association.

He is part of the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council's cultural steering committee and sits on the Charles Sturt University's regional advisory board.

Mr Denny says Port Macquarie and the wider North Coast are well-placed to enhance their exposure in the evolving tourism market.

"I think of other destinations, such as Byron Bay, who traditionally attract more international visitors (compared with the North Coast) and they are not performing quite as well right now," he said.

Gold among the Greens: Environment Minister Rob Stokes presents the best of the best gold Green Globes Award to The Observatory s Chris and Trish Denny.

Gold among the Greens: Environment Minister Rob Stokes presents the best of the best gold Green Globes Award to The Observatory s Chris and Trish Denny.

"In our traditional markets we (Port Macquarie) are seen as a safe destination, which is the appeal for many travellers (in a COVID-19 environment).

"This seems to be reflective in some of our local campaigns.

"Our target audience could be defined within a couple of hundred kilometre radius.

"Traditionally the Port Macquarie has been a predominately drive market - with international visitations relatively small at around three per cent.

"In that sense Port Macquarie is offering a lot to the potential visitor led by our natural beauty and koala populations."

Mr Denny said the closure of the Queensland border was also working in favour of the North Coast tourism market.

He supports the current council marketing campaign around imagery coupled with social media posts.

"It is putting us front of mind," he said.

You're a star: Port Macquarie Koala Hospital received international recognition for its work during the 2019 bushfire crisis.

You're a star: Port Macquarie Koala Hospital received international recognition for its work during the 2019 bushfire crisis.

Mr Ayres said Destination NSW earlier this year launched a statewide tourism recovery campaign, Love NSW, that draws on our own emotional connection to the state.

The campaign working on the outpouring of support for our tourism operators off the back of bushfires, and now COVID-19.

"Love NSW has grown and evolved, featuring many of Sydney and NSW's most-loved destinations and experiences alongside some of the niche gems that are waiting to be discovered across TV advertising, social and digital, YouTube, print and billboards," he said.

"The North Coast continues to feature prominently in the Love NSW campaign, through social media and digital advertising content, in partnership activities that directly drives bookings for operators and in Destination NSW's extensive publicity outreach.

"In July alone Destination NSW secured Network Seven's breakfast program Sunrise to conduct live broadcasts from Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour and Byron Bay, and Network 10's lifestyle program The Living Room to film in Ballina and Lismore which also aired last month.

"We will keep inspiring future holidaymakers from NSW and beyond to ensure NSW is the top destination on their wish list when we're able to travel safely once again."

Destination NSW works closely with Destination North Coast and councils in the region to identify opportunities in the tourism sector.

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This story Grounded international travellers a target for local tourism markets first appeared on Port Macquarie News.