Once they see what we have to offer, they’ll keep coming back.
That’s the message Tourism and Major Events Minister Adam Marshall was pushing at the launch of a $6 million state-wide strategy, which aims to drive more business events and conferences to regional NSW.
Speaking from Tamworth on Friday, Mr Marshall said the conferencing industry is worth about $145 million a year to regional NSW, but the new strategy would “open the flood gates”.
“I know if we brought more of these regional conferences out here, they would be hugely successful, because they always have been,” Mr Marshall said.
“Once we get the conference business and the economic spend here in the first place, it’s a gateway to getting them to come back again and again.
“It’s exposing them to what a place like Tamworth has, so you increase your opportunity to get them back for a holiday, or something like the Country Music Festival.”
Tamworth Business Chamber president Jye Segboer said it was “nice to hear the fellas in the city are listening to us when we boast about our great venues”.
While he appreciated the $500,000 dollar-for-dollar grant scheme to improve venues, he doesn’t believe it will go very far.
“For example, just to replace the seating at the TRECC is $1.4 million, and that’s just one venue in one city, so we would love to see some more funding come through in the future,” Mr Segboer said.
Mr Marshall said he was committed to topping up the grant money if the demand was high.
“If we have more than half a million dollars worth of grant applications in six months, that’s a good thing,” he said.
“Knowing country NSW, there are a lot of facilities that have a lot of potential, they just need a bit more polish put on them.
“If we need extra resources for that, then I’m committed to getting them.”
Mr Segboer said the biggest hurdle regional areas faced in the conferencing and events industry was travel time, cost and frequency.
“People chose to go to Sydney, Newcastle or the coast where there are a greater frequency of flights,” he said.
While there is no easy solution, Mr Segboer suggested luring conferences to regional cities through travel incentives or funding, which would “certainly be more beneficial than a flashy marketing campaign”.