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State government’s funding boost to attract tourists to the region

THE NSW government has pledged to spend $6 million to boost tourism in regional NSW, with a plan that could benefit Orange, Bathurst and Dubbo.

The funding would be spent on a regional conference strategy to increase midweek visitation to the regional centres through the promotion of business, sporting and community group conferences, meetings and exhibitions.

NSW deputy premier Troy Grant pledged to spend the $6 million in consultation with tourism and hospital industry representatives.

The strategy was influenced by a report by Tourism Accommodation Australia that stated regional NSW’s share of overnight visitor stays had dropped from 50 per cent to 45 per cent in 2012-13 and was on track to decline to 40.2 per cent by 2022-23.

Throwing support behind the conference strategy, the association’s communications manager Peter Hook said Orange had excellent weekend visitation but needed to pick up on midweek tourism.

“Orange is doing well from a leisure perspective but for hotels they need that overnight visitor to maximise their investment,” he said.

On the other hand he said Bathurst and Dubbo had appropriate conference facilities already in place, but needed to attract more people to use them.

He said the conference centre at Dubbo’s Taronga Western Plains Zoo, and Charles Sturt University and Mount Panorama at Bathurst, were ideal facilities.

“What has happened in these sorts of places is that the Monday-to-Thursday business trade has diminished or stagnated but meets all of the conference modelling strategies,” Mr Hook said.

He said many businesses did not recover after the global financial crisis and usually held their conferences closer to their main bases in the city, so needed reminding of what was available in regional areas.

Brand Orange executive officer Rhonda Sear said the Orange-based tourism group had been working on increasing conference and business tourism in the region for the past 18 months.

“The thing is, we have been very limited in regard to conference venues in regard to capacity with what we do hold,” she said.

However, Ms Sear said there would be more facilities available in the future and the Orange Ex-Services’ Club was increasing its conference capacity as part of ongoing renovations.

Orange Ex-Services’ Club CEO Cameron Provost said the conference facilities would be upgraded in about three or four years as stage four of the renovation plan.

“I think it [the conference strategy] is a very good initiative, it’s very much welcomed by myself and the club,” Mr Provost said.

He hoped it would offer the not-for-profit club support or funding to complete the conference centre work.

“It would help with tourism and attracting events to town to help accommodation, shops and bed and breakfast places. It would not only benefit the club but the community as well,” Mr Provost said.

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