Barnaby Joyce started lobbying for Armidale to be covered by a new subsidy for tourists' airplane tickets "within about 10 minutes" of learning of the scheme.
The $1.2 billion package, announced on Thursday, will pay half the cost of 800,000 airline tickets to at least 13 regional airports around the country.
None of those passengers will fly to Armidale or Tamworth.
The New England MP said he learned about the plan "at around the same time as everybody else".
He said the idea was well-intentioned, but flawed.
"I would have given categories of towns and allocated tickets to categories of towns. And I think I would have said that the only way you get your 50 per cent ticket is if you buy it through your local travel agent. I know that they're one of the key areas that we need to look at," he said.
"To be quite frank, I found out about this at around about the same time as everybody else, so our capacity to actually influence that decision was not as pronounced as I believe it should have been, if it had been I think we would have done better."
State counterpart Adam Marshall wrote to federal tourism minister Dan Tehan on Friday demanding that additional regional destinations be immediately added to the scheme.
He said he was flabbergasted by the decision to include four Queensland destinations.
"Like a petulant child Queensland slammed its borders shut at the faintest whiff of COVID-19, ignoring national consensus on border closures and subsequently orchestrating the demise of its own tourism sector," he said.
"It is mind boggling that Queensland should then be so heavily rewarded with this program, while NSW, which has done most of the heavy lifting during the pandemic in accepting and processing overseas arrivals and keeping its economy open, should only have one location included."
Interstate tourists looking to travel to NSW can only book subsidised tickets to Merimbula.
Mr Marshall said a voucher scheme covering accommodation, transport, tours as well as airfares would be a more equitable way to support the tourism sector.
There are three eligible airports in Northern Tasmania 150 kilometres apart, and four in Queensland alone. All bar one destination are in marginal, or government-held seats.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack told media on Thursday the list of 13 airports was not final and more could be added depending on how the scheme goes.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content: