The Macleay Valley Coast tourism industry will celebrate the launch of a major new branding and marketing campaign at a special tourism event being held on the grounds of one of the Valley’s own tourism icons, Trial Bay Goal, tonight.
The campaign is the result of a three-way funding partnership between Kempsey Shire Council, Destination NSW and local industry operators and has resulted in a major redesign of the region’s major tourism website, www.macleayvalleycoast.com.au
Strong support and input to the campaign has also been provided by Macleay Valley Coast Tourism Association as well as local chambers of commerce.
A new Macleay Valley Coast brochure featuring the ‘Discover something new’ branding will also be unveiled on the night, with 40,000 copies ready to be distributed.
Three new highway billboards have also been secured at high-visibility sites at Grafton, Tamworth and Taree. These are in addition to the Shire’s existing sites at Telegraph Point and Clybucca and aim to raise awareness of the Macleay’s location and attractiveness as a visitor destination.
Kempsey Shire Council’s Manager, Economic Sustainability, Susannah Smith said the campaign was a vital part of Council’s post-bypass economic strategy to promote the Macleay as much more than a highway town.
“This is a very strong campaign that delivers a powerful visual image of the Macleay, backed up by a website that is extremely user-friendly and really sells the Macleay’s people and its abundant natural assets,” Ms Smith said.
Recent statistics from Tourism Research Australia show a 5% increase in visitor numbers to the Macleay, from 540,667 in 2012 to 565,733 in 2013, with the local tourism industry contributing an estimated $173 million to the local economy each year.
Walk-in traffic to the South Kempsey Visitor Information Centre had dropped overall since the opening of the Pacific Highway Bypass in late March 2013, however.
“This is partly about more people using online devises to search for information about their destinations, but it’s also about the reduced traffic travelling along the South Kempsey Corridor,” Ms Smith said.
“We have anticipated this trend and the campaign is therefore extremely well-timed in terms of taking a proactive marketing approach to promoting our region and doing our best to boost economic returns from tourism dollars.”
“As the saying goes, you can’t sell a secret, and we are doing everything we can to ensure the Macleay is being as competitive as possible in the way we develop and deliver our marketing.”
With increasing numbers of visitors relying on online sources for visitor information, the new website is a central part of the Macleay’s marketing strategy.
“The new site really sets a whole new benchmark for the region,” Ms Smith said. “It is extremely mobile and user-friendly, and provides all the essential information visitors are seeking in a way that is visually compelling, succinct and logical.”
A major component of the website is an online local business directory proving an easy-reference guide to local accommodation, restaurants and cafes, retailers and other service providers.
“All local businesses who signed up for the campaign are automatically provided with Macleay Valley Coast Tourism Association Membership and part of the return value of the membership is an extremely attractive profile page at the website with full business and contact information, as well as a listing in the directory.”
The scope of the site has also been broadened beyond tourism to include information on lifestyle and investment.
“What we now have is a more useful destination site that caters not only to holiday-makers, but people seeking a lifestyle change, or those interested in investing or setting up a business in the Macleay,” she said.
“This change recognises that fact that many people who holiday in the Macleay end up living here permanently and setting up businesses. We want to make it easy for those people to tap into all the relevant information Council has available to assist them in this process.”
The new highway billboards will be constructed and unveiled in November, while the website goes live today.
November will also see the release of the 2013-2015 Destination Management Plan, which provides an overview of the local tourism industry and identifies funding priorities for the future. To be eligible for funding through Destination NSW, all regions throughout the State must now have a DMP, with all funding applications expected to demonstrate alignment with local and regional tourism priorities.
About 100 industry operators are expected to attend tonight’s launch, which will be opening by Mayor Cr Liz Campbell.