A change to Wollondilly’s tourism classification means the shire will now be more visible than ever.
Wollondilly was previously considered – in a tourism sense – to be part of Sydney, competing with the likes of the city, northern beaches and inner west for both domestic and international visitors.
But reforms to Destination NSW’s regional tourism structure now have the shire in a much more appropriate classification: Sydney Surrounds South.
This means tourism-angled businesses and products within the shire will have greater access to funding and a better chance to attract visitor eyes.
Wollondilly councillor – and Mowbray Park managing director – Blair Briggs is thrilled with the shire’s new classification.
“This is something the Wollondilly Tourism Association had been lobbying for for a couple of years,” he said.
“When we joined forces with the council things really got rolling along.
“Instead of being lumped in with Sydney, we’re now grouped with the likes of Wingecarribee shire, Wollongong and parts of the Southern Highlands and the south coast.”
Cr Briggs said being classified as Destination Sydney Surrounds South allowed shire businesses to apply for grants that were previously unavailable.
“There is dedicated funding for regional tourism which will allow local business products to apply for grants where when we were part of Destination Sydney we would not have had access to a cent,” he said.
“The government wants to double regional tourism in the next few years.
“In a practical sense, this classification will allow us to be better able to achieve this.
“Any start-up or business that can demonstrate they’ve got a product or service that can contribute to tourism can apply for a grant and get seed money to help them get off the ground.”
Cr Briggs said increasing tourism had benefits beyond businesses which offered traditionally tourist-based products or services.
He said an increase in tourism brought economic advantages and would boost local cafes and restaurants, supermarkets, service stations, stores and more.
“The shire has a host of unique assets that make it an attractive place to visit for people from here and abroad,” he said.
“We’ve got amazing bushland, things like the Picton Botanical Gardens, the heritage centre at The Oaks and of course our historic pubs.”
Wollondilly mayor Judith Hannan said the reclassification was a great step for the shire.
“This is a really good move for us,” she said.
“We’ve really been pushing tourism lately and anything that is going to give us a boost in that field is absolutely a good thing.”
Cr Hannan said being grouped with Wingecarribee and the Southern Highlands made sense for Wollondilly.
“A lot of our bushwalks and parks cross those boundaries in their areas,” she said.
“It’s good to be in their company, rather than with the rest of Sydney.”