Up to $95,000 will be invested into far north coast events through the NSW government’s 2017 Flagship Event Fund, while funding to support the region’s ailing infrastructure has been promised ‘at a later stage.’
NSW minister for tourism and major events Adam Marshall and parliamentary secretary for northern NSW Ben Franklin (both National MPs) made the announcement Monday morning at the Poinciana Cafe in Mullumbimby, along with organisers of The Byron Spirit Festival.
The Echo asked Mr Marshall if there were plans to also include infrastructure funding for councils who struggle under the weight of high visitor numbers and a low ratepayer base.
He replied that he was aware of the issue that faces Byron Shire Council.
‘All regions face different tourism issues,’ he said, ‘and we are working on a package for this.
‘Some regions require improved auditoriums for example, whereas councils such as Byron Shire obviously need road infrastructure.’
The Byron Spirit Festival, Ballina Prawn Festival and Sample Food Festival will all benefit from the Flagship Event Fund, says the minister, as ‘part of our renewed commitment to boost regional economies through tourism and major events.’
He said the Byron Spirit Festival and Ballina Prawn Festival will receive an annual grant of $20,000 with the Sample Food Festival receiving triennial funding of $27,500.
‘These events join the Australian Longboard Surfing Festival in Kingscliff, which continues its triennial funding in 2017, as key flagship events for the region.
‘Events play a fundamental role in attracting new and returning visitors to our regional towns, bringing with them additional business to restaurants and cafes, local tourism operators, attractions and accommodation providers.’
Mr Franklin said the fund, which is managed by Destination NSW, provides grants to support marketing activities that drive overnight visitation to regional NSW.
‘The north coast has so much on offer. Events such as the Byron Spirit Festival, Ballina Prawn Festival and Sample Food Festival are a celebration of our community,’ Mr Franklin said.
‘I’m really excited that this funding will assist in promoting and growing these iconic events and benefit our tourism sector.