The Hunter, Port Stephens and Lake Macquarie need to focus on locking down activities and attractions to build the region’s visitor economy, tourism advocate Will Creedon says.
He joined Newcastle Airport CEO Dr Peter Cock and Peter Francis, who is the CEO of Lake Macquarie City Council’s economic development agency Dantia, in a forum for Urban Development Institute of Australia, discussing the region’s tourism challenges and opportunities.
Mr Creedon said hotels and accommodation wouldn’t bring more visitors to the Hunter and Lake Macquarie – activities and attractions would.
“How we create – build – attractions to live beside our natural attractions will stimulate the market,” he said.
“Wine country needs another muscle player – it needs another Hunter Valley Gardens or it needs something else to diversify.
“Port Stephens needs to go from 26 weeks a year to 32 weeks a year in the next four years to move out the shoulder periods.
“Newcastle needs more activities and attractions to bring people here, that’s why we’ve gone hard after events.”
Mr Creedon told the meeting that the Broadmeadow sports and entertainment precinct would be the region’s next “tourism trench” for the coming decade.
But he said commercial opportunities needed to be investigated and the region shouldn’t wait for government funding to develop the precinct.
“If there’s anything we need to do, it’s that we need to open up more publicly and let people have conversations and tinker,” he said.
“If we don't we’ll just be waiting for government.”
Dr Cock gave the meeting an update on the state of growth at Newcastle Airport and plans for expansion in the domestic arena and into the international market.
“Newcastle Airport is a key driver of economic and social benefit for the region,” he said.
“We contribute $1.1 billion in economic impact to our region and the state’s economy and we take our role in driving economic and social benefit for our communities seriously.
“In the past five years, Newcastle Airport has invested $32 million in infrastructure developments and projects and we forecast that we may need to invest more than $325 million over the next 20 years to meet the region’s air transport needs.
“This investment is to support our region’s growth. Passenger throughput has grown by 25 per cent in the past 10 years and it is expected that in the next 20 years we will welcome up to 2.65 million passengers annually, expanding to up to 10 million passengers annually in the next 60 years.”