The NSW Government has announced changes to the state's Destination Networks in a move it says will ensure the regional visitor economy is set up for continued success and receives more local resources and support.
Cowra was formerly part of Destination NSW Country and Outback and will now be included in Destination Central West.
Cowra Tourism manager Glen Daley says "in theory" the changes could be good for Cowra but are not welcome news for Parkes, Forbes and Lachlan shires which remain in Destination NSW Country and Outback.
"We've always been in Destination NSW Country and Outback which basically included from Lithgow west and north," Mr Daley said.
"We haven't had a lot of support from them as they tended to focus more on the northern part of the state," Mr Daley said of Destination NSW Country and Outback.
The Central NSW Joint Organisation of Council stepped in to fill the void.
"They have a mandate to lobby and promote on behalf of the 10 councils involved, a small part of their mandate is tourism so they tried to fill the gap that Country and Outback left," Mr Daley said.
The Central NSW JO consists of Bathurst Bathurst Regional Council, Blayney Shire Council, Cabonne Council, Cowra Council, Forbes Shire Council, Lachlan Shire Council, Oberon Council, Orange City Council, Parkes Shire Council and Weddin Shire Council.
"All of a sudden, and without any consultation, Destination NSW has created an additional Destination region called Destination Central West that hasn't included Parkes, Forbes and Lachlan who are part of our joint organisation."
Mr Daley said they will now miss out on the promotional opportunities that could have been offered if they remained with the other central west towns in the newly formed Destination.
Central NSW Joint Organisation executive officer Jenny Bennett says the group's 10 member councils are disappointed to see Forbes, Parkes and Lachlan have been removed from the central west network.
"While the Central NSWJO welcomes a reduction in size of Destination Network Country and Outback from its current footprint of 61% of the State, removing the communities of Forbes, Parkes and Lachlan from the new Central West Destination Network is more than disappointing," Ms Bennett said.
"While the media release from the State says it aligns with other State government boundaries it is the complete opposite.
"The Central West of NSW, according to the Department of Premier and Cabinet boundaries, includes Forbes, Parkes and Lachlan.
"Once again State agencies are ignoring the Department of Premier and Cabinet and making it very difficult to work on a regional basis.
"This also goes against all advice this region has put to the State where we want to work within the State boundary the State has defined.
"This region has a very active and successful collaboration across the Central West footprint building the visitor economy.
"We are delivering campaigns that in the past year has delivered $2.3m in Public Relations value.
"We have fully funded a strategy for the Central West region," she said.
Ms Bennett said the council organisation would welcome an opportunity to work with all of its members rather than leaving the communities of Parkes, Forbes and Lachlan out.
"The Board will be approaching to State to see if common sense will prevail," she said.
While Parkes, Forbes and Lachlan appear big losers as a result of the change Mr Daley said "in theory Cowra should receive more support because a Destination representative is likely to be based in Bathurst".
"Country and Outback, we haven't seen a lot of them.
"There has always been a desire for Country and Outback to be smaller so they could spread the love, so reducing it's size is a good step, but not including Parkes, Forbes and Lachlan is a massive oversight and there was an opportunity to include Dubbo in the new region as well," Mr Daley said.
Announcing the changes Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the NSW Government was committed to growing the visitor economy of regional NSW with the right framework in place to support visitor growth, job creation, skills development and stakeholder engagement.
"We're proud of our track record of supporting the regional visitor economy, including the establishment of the Destination Networks, and these changes give the Networks an even stronger and more sustainable framework to support our growth targets," Mr Toole said.
"We're focused on ensuring this important sector has the right support and structures in place to make sure regional NSW comes back bigger and stronger than ever before."
Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western and Minister for Trade and Industry Sydney Stuart Ayres said the visitor economy was a critical industry for many regional NSW communities and growing visitation would play a key role in the state's COVID-19 recovery.
"Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic the regional visitor economy contributed $22.5 billion in tourism consumption and supported 99,600 direct jobs, over half the state's visitor economy workforce," Mr Ayres said.
"Destination Networks play a key role in delivering our NSW Visitor Economy Strategy 2030, including our target of $25 billion in regional overnight visitor expenditure by 2030. We have a vision of making NSW the premier visitor economy of the Asia Pacific and it's critical the regional visitor economy is supported appropriately to help achieve this."
Changes to the Destination Network structure include:
- A new Destination Network for Central West NSW to increase resources for well-established visitor destinations, including Bathurst, Orange and Mudgee
- The relocation of Snowy Valley Local Government Area from Destination Riverina Murray to Destination Southern NSW
- Aligning Destination Sydney Surrounds North and Destination Sydney Surrounds South boundaries with Western Parkland City
The changes to Destination Network borders will take effect from 1 July 2022.
The NSW Government established the original six Destination Networks in 2016 following a review of regional tourism to improve regional stakeholder engagement and better support the regional NSW visitor economy. The Destination Networks are the 'shopfront' for Destination NSW in regional NSW and work closely with local government, tourism organisations and operators.
Destination NSW will work with visitor economy stakeholders in each region to implement the changes.
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