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Ian Smith

Ian Smith

Executive Director, NSW Office of Regional Economic Development

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A growing sector in a great location

A growing sector in a great location

Image credit: Dee Kramer Photography

Australia is one of the world’s most desirable travel destinations and Regional NSW offers more diverse tourism options than any other state or territory.

Regional NSW tourism overnight expenditure was A$14.3 billion in the 12 months to June 2019. The number of visitors to Regional NSW grew by 41.2% from June 2014 to June 2019, or 7.1% per year in compound annual growth terms.

Rural and Regional NSW welcomed over 866,000 international visitors in the year to June 2019 for a total of 15.1 million nights and A$1.1 billion of expenditure.

More people visit NSW than any other state and territory in Australia. Visitors are drawn to the vibrant city of Sydney and the region’s natural landscapes, and famous food, wine and beverages.

Visitors increasingly seek opportunities to experience NSW’s unique Aboriginal culture and history.

No other Australian state offers outback, country, alpine, coastal, island and subtropical regions all within its borders.

Regional NSW has excellent tourism infrastructure and facilities with the potential for further investment in hotel accommodation, transport and tourism services.

The Snowy Mountains in the South East and Tablelands region has been selected as an iconic location to promote regional Australia and create an environment conducive to attracting foreign direct investment into regional tourism infrastructure.

The NSW Government has announced it will investigate a Snowy Mountains Special Activation Precinct to focus on year-round tourism, improve regional transport connectivity and support Jindabyne’s growth as a winter Olympics training base.

Growth opportunities in Regional NSW's tourism sector

Growth opportunities in Regional NSW's tourism sector

Image credit: Department of Premier and Cabinet

The NSW Government is committed to growing the cruise industry to support tourism, jobs and economic growth.

In 2017–18 the NSW cruise shipping industry created 9,973 jobs and added A$2.8 billion in total expenditure (direct, indirect and induced) to the State’s economy.

The areas around NSW’s two regional ports, Newcastle and Eden, received A$12.7 million and A$32 million respectively which will support the growing cruise industry in Regional NSW. Eden Wharf has added capacity to accept passenger vehicles up to 325 metres in length allowing increased cruise ship visitation.

The regional ports of Newcastle, Eden and more recently Port Kembla are increasingly being added to cruise itineraries. In 2019-20 Eden will post a record cruise season with 22 visits scheduled, up from 15 visits last season. Learn more about the cruise destinations along the NSW coastline.

Many of Australia’s world-famous wines are produced in Regional NSW. The renowned Hunter Valley is one of 14 wine regions along with the South East and Tablelands cool-climate wines and the charming historic regions of Orange and Mudgee. Wine and food tours are popular with visitors, combining the State’s natural beauty with its agricultural heritage and premium local produce.

Top 5 international tourism source markets to Regional NSW

Chart showing Top 5 international source markets to Regional NSW

Chart showing Top 5 international source markets to Regional NSW

Source: Destination NSW 2018, Regional Tourism Statistics, Travel to Regional NSW Time Series December 2018

Rising demand for Aboriginal tourism in Regional NSW

Rising demand for Aboriginal tourism in Regional NSW

Image credit: Jeremy Piper Photography

Australia’s Aboriginal people are custodians of the world’s oldest continuous living culture.

NSW has the largest Aboriginal population in Australia, and provides many opportunities for visitors to engage with Aboriginal communities and experience their culture.

In the 12 months to June 2019, a total of 500,000 international and domestic overnight visitors participated in an Aboriginal cultural tourism experience in NSW. These visitors stayed 13.4 million nights and contributed A$1.65 billion in visitor expenditure to the state.

Government support for Regional NSW's tourism sector

The NSW Government’s Visitor Economy Industry Action Plan 2030 supports continued strong growth in Regional NSW’s tourism sector.

The Action Plan aims to achieve A$20 billion in overnight visitor expenditure in Regional NSW by 2025 and A$25 billion by 2030.

Destination NSW positions Sydney and NSW as world-leading tourism and events destinations. A key part of this is attracting and securing major sporting and cultural events across NSW, which ultimately drive visitation. Six Destination Networks in Regional NSW play a key role in growing local visitor economies and provide access to the Government’s regional tourism funding programs that deliver a wider range of visitor experience and product offerings. Destination NSW’s Aboriginal Tourism Action Plan 2017-2020 maps out the growth strategies to deliver economic and social benefits for Aboriginal people, both as operators and employees, and ensures the sector continues to flourish.

The NSW Government’s A$300 million Regional Growth – Environment and Tourism Fund invests in infrastructure to increase tourist visitation to Regional NSW and create jobs. A map of projects funded to date under the Regional Growth Fund can be found here. The NSW Government has also announced a A$25 million Byron Bay Sustainable Tourism Fund to manage the impact of tourism on the North Coast region.

For more details, visit the assistance page.

Established tourism sector businesses based in Regional NSW

Success stories in Regional NSW's tourism sector

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Ian Smith

Executive Director, NSW Office of Regional Economic Development
Office contacts
Suite 1, Level 1
47-59 Wingewarra Street
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