Wollongong already fulfills a significant role in the NSW visitor economy, the head of the city's tourism body says, as the state government outlines its plans for the tourism sector for the next decade.
A new visitor economy strategy describes the government's aim to make NSW the premier visitor economy of the Asia Pacific region by 2030.
"I think we've already proven that Wollongong plays an important role," Destination Wollongong general manager Mark Sleigh said.
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Mr Sleigh said the city had the capacity to facilitate events at the national and international level and the necessary accommodation stock.
With greater reliance on self-drive travel now, he said, Wollongong was perfectly situated to cater to that market.
Mr Sleigh said the Grand Pacific Drive was arguably the best drive in NSW, and the Sea Cliff Bridge had put the route on the map internationally.
The visitor strategy also outlines a 'road to recovery' from COVID-19 and natural disasters.
Mr Sleigh said tourism businesses needed to know what supports all levels of governments would provide, with JobKeeper - which had kept businesses afloat - due to cease at the end of March.
Meanwhile, Mr Sleigh said, governments also needed to commit to keeping state borders open - customers needed the assurance that they could book trips that would not be interrupted or cancelled by border closures.
The strategy outlines a target to return visitation and expenditure in NSW to pre-pandemic levels by 2024.
Mr Sleigh said this "aggressive target" sent a great message for all operators and investors in the sector.
The government's plan says the focus is on the domestic market until international travel resumes.
There had been significant investment in the China market over the past 10 years, Mr Sleigh said, and Wollongong had done extremely well in that market, mostly through the university.
But he said fostering a closer relationship with New Zealand was important, given the travel bubble between it and Australia.
Wollongong already had ties, with Mr Sleigh listing Wellington Phoenix's base in the city for the current A-League season and Super Rugby's Christchurch Crusaders partnership with the university in its development program as examples.
The story Wollongong's 'important role' in visitor economy as NSW looks to future first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.