North Coast Destination Network gets boost

THE tourism industry has hit the ground running this year after a successful peak holiday season.

State government funding announced on Friday is focused on increasing overnight visitors and spending along the Legendary Pacific Coast touring route.

Regional Tourism Minister John Barilaro and Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams announced $693,000 through the Regional Visitor Economy Fund to the North Coast Destination Network.

Some $413,000 will promote Port Macquarie, Ballina, the Coffs Coast, Lismore and Tweed Heads under a cooperative domestic marketing campaign.

The aim is to increase overnight visitors through the mid-year school holidays.

The focus will turn overseas thanks to $227,500 towards a marketing program to draw tourists from Singapore, the United Kingdom, USA, Germany and New Zealand.

Mr Barilaro said the region attracted a large number of domestic visitors and the state government wanted to grow that market, in addition to attracting more international visitors.

"We already know a lot of international tourists go to Sydney and stop in Sydney," he said.

Mr Barilaro said the Legendary Pacific Coast was ripe for growth.

North Coast Destination Network co-chair Kathy Balodis said international tourists traditionally flew into Sydney, Brisbane or the Gold Coast, and the campaign was about attracting them to drive north or south along the east coast.

She also stressed the importance of the domestic market.

"There is a real growth market from south-east Queensland because of the highway improvements," Mrs Balodis said.

Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams said the tourism sector had a large economic flow on effect and it made perfect sense to continue to support that.

"Our overnight stays and day visitors are very important but we also need to make sure that international tourists who visit Sydney get out to the regions," she said.

The Regional Visitor Economy Fund allocation will be matched by participating local government tourism and economic development units and industry.

The state government has also committed $52,500 to support a co-operative marketing campaign between the North Coast Destination Network and