29 October 2023

Riverina businesses encouraged to put us on the map by embracing the visitor economy

| Chris Roe
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cyclists riding through blossoming field

The 2022 Gears and Beers took riders through the fields. Photo: Josef Winkler.

There’s no question that tourism is big business and Riverina locals are being encouraged to take the visitor economy seriously.

“We’ve put out a call to action to get businesses in the Riverina Murray thinking about how they could better support the visitor economy and tourism,” said Serena Hardwick from Business NSW.

“It is not only about the value it contributes directly into our economy or the jobs it creates, it is also about promoting our region as a great place to live, work and invest.

“It’s really about understanding what we have in our own backyard and being able to promote that to other people.”

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The visitor economy includes tourists, daytrippers, business travellers and visiting family and friends, and contributes $5.5 million a day to the Riverina economy.

There are obvious benefits to businesses engaged in accommodation, hospitality and tourism, but Serena said we should be thinking outside the box.

business seminar

Business leaders gathered in Albury this week to discuss ways to engage in the visitor economy. Photo: Supplied.

Business NSW has hosted a roundtable with business leaders from across the region to discuss the opportunities.

“Everyone has a role to play in promoting our region as a great place to come and visit, but also a great place to live as well,” Serena said.

“If we don’t know what exists here ourselves, how are we going to promote it to anybody else? So a big part of it is really about understanding what we have in our own backyard and how we can communicate that.”

Serena explained that it can be as simple as engaging visitors in conversation and making recommendations or cross-promoting other businesses.

“There are ways you can promote the region incidentally, like if you’re hosting an event you can make sure that you’ve got regional produce on display or even have a flyer for a business to go do something after your event,” she said.

“It’s just really providing them with additional information on what else they can experience while in the region and there are so many opportunities to showcase all these things in a very different way.

“And of course, you can maximise that by sharing posts through social media that celebrate what the region has to offer.”

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Sarah Hope from Destination Riverina Murray agreed that the region needed to work together.

“If you’re a business, when you welcome clients from outside the local area, think about incorporating local growers and producers into your events, and having your business meetings at a cafe or business event venue,” she suggested.

“Invite your visiting guests and clients out for dinner and enjoy the local tours and experiences. Host a conference across two days, so your delegates can enjoy accommodation and meals while in town.

“By actively participating in the growth of the visitor economy, businesses can not only increase their own revenue but also contribute to the economic development of the region.

“A vibrant tourism industry can enhance the overall quality of life for local residents and foster a strong sense of community pride.”

Serena said thinking regionally was the key to shifting the way businesses operated.

“If we start thinking about this a little bit differently and think of it not as how can we support the tourism industry but how can we actually increase investment in our own community,” she explained.

“We need to have the mentality that we are not competitive. We are all winning when someone’s in our region and having a great experience.”

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