$1 million to help struggling NSW regions host events

NSW regions looking to stimulate tourism after a horror summer season can now apply for $1 million worth of grants to deliver events that attract visitors.

Destination NSW has opened the regional event fund as part of the NSW Government’s $10 million tourism recovery package announced earlier this month.

State minister for tourism Stuart Ayres said: “Events are really important for regional communities because they give people from outside the town or area extra motivation to visit, stay locally and spend locally.

“On top of this, events stimulate regional economies through engaging local businesses such as food and beverage and infrastructure suppliers, tradespeople and staff, who all contribute to the delivery of a successful event.

A flagship event fund provides grants of $20,000 to support event marketing activities to attract visitors from outside their immediate regions and drive tourism.

And a micro event fund offers one-off grants of $10,000 to community-based events in bushfire or drought-affected areas with total operating budgets of $75,000 or less that “have the capacity to bring together local communities, attract visitation and stimulate local economies”.

The launch comes as accom operators throughout regional NSW are scrambling to find ways of attracting visitors back into normally busy tourism regions.

One, from the central west town of Orange, approached AccomNews last week asking for advice on how to get back on track.

“The reason for me contacting you is that I think the devastating summer, with heat, fires and a general lack of rain west of the mountains has had a dramatic downward effect on all tourism,” he said.

“How do we stimulate tourism again?”

While he praised the local tourism body Orange360 as a “fantastic organisation”, the operator told us: “Very few eastern seaboard folks seem to be coming to Orange, which is now NSW’s premier wine and food region.”

Minister for regional NSW, John Barilaro, earlier this month revealed a push by the state’s tourism and business representative bodies to persuade Sydney organisations to hold business events in the bush.

“People visiting regional areas in NSW for business purposes spend around 33 percent more than those visiting for leisure, so it is important the NSW government and organisations continue to support the regions in this way,” he said.

To be eligible for the new funds, events must be delivered between 1 May and 31 December 2020, but events in bushfire-affected areas planned for the Easter school holiday period may be eligible for federal government grants via Austrade, according to Destination NSW.

Event owners can seek guidance from Austrade, Destination NSW, Destination Networks and local councils about relevant grant applications.

“This state funding complements the commonwealth’s recovery grants and will provide short-to-medium term tactical support to regional communities that we know are hurting as a result of devastating bushfires and drought,” minister Ayres said.

The NSW government’s $10 million tourism recovery package announced earlier this month is designed to drive visitation through the social media-led Now’s The Time To Love NSW marketing campaign, partnership campaigns and direct assistance to tourism businesses.

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