O’Neill gets top marks for trying

A senior industry figure has welcomed the main findings of the O’Neill report reviewing tourism in New South Wales and pledged to lobby to ensure its recommendations are implemented.The long-awaited report, finally released on June 10, was heavily critical of the way tourism has been managed in the state. It was swiftly followed by the resignation of Tourism NSW Executive Director John O’Neill (no relation to the report’s rugby boss author) along with an extra $40 million in State Government funding for tourism over three years.
YHA NSW Chief Executive and BOA board member Julian Ledger said BOA will actively engage with other tourism associations in communicating its views on priorities to the Government.
Noting that reports can “gather dust”, Ledger said: “If Government is serious about tourism is has to create a culture that facilitates growth. The report correctly identifies that NSW has not had that. In Queensland and Victoria there is a recognition of the value of tourism, in this place it has been taken for granted.”
Among the findings welcomed by Ledger were the recommendation to develop “Brand Sydney” as a means to market NSW and the acknowledgement that tourism growth will come from overseas.
“The report clearly says Tourism NSW’s focus on the domestic market has not delivered suffi cient returns and that growth will come from international markets. That’s a no-brainer for the backpacker sector.”
Ledger added the growth in overseas student numbers and assets including national parks had been officially acknowledged in the
report as new opportunities for the industry.
“New South Wales has got some of the best national parks in the world, many close to Sydney,” he said. “There’s a huge opportunity to do some more imaginative things than taking people on a bus to Echo Point.”
However, he expressed disappointment that there was no proposal to establish Tourism NSW as an independent corporation, claiming many of its roles do not fi t well within the public service.

To view the O’Neill report in full, visit www.boansw.org.au.

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