UPPER Hunter MP George Souris has praised a new marketing campaign to boost tourism numbers in the region.
But, he also offered a word of caution at the launch of Upper Hunter Country at Denman’s Two Rivers Winery on Monday.
“I think it’s a terrific concept, Come on Up, however everyone needs to be on board,” Mr Souris told the Chronicle.
“And, it could take a year or two before it gains a currency.”
Tourism brings more than 150,000 overnight visitors to Upper Hunter Country every 12 months, injecting in excess of $300 million annually into the regional economy.
Destination NSW and the NSW Government have set a bold target to double visitor expenditure in the state by 2020.
The Upper Hunter Country initiative, which includes a new brand and marketing direction that features Aberdeen, Denman, Merriwa, Murrurundi, Muswellbrook, Scone and surrounding areas, is also backed by Muswellbrook and Upper Hunter shire councils.
It will tap into the visitor economy and the other natural resources of the region, such as national parks, Lake Glenbawn, Lake Liddell, events and festivals, gourmet food and wine, the equine industry, heritage and culture.
Mr Souris admitted the Upper Hunter needed its own identity.
“Today, when you mention the area, it [Hunter] throws people out – they automatically think it is Newcastle,” he said.
“The real Upper Hunter begins at the end of Branxton; where Singleton starts; and goes up as far as Murrurundi.
“This concept will be good, as long as it’s adopted as an identifying logo – and everyone uses it.
“The logo needs to appear on council and chamber of commerce letterheads, as well as accommodation venues.
“It must get out to everyone in NSW.
“There are a lot of drawcards in the area, but people have to understand what ‘Up’ signifies.
“It meant Upper Hunter to me.
“In fact, there is catchiness in using the word ‘Up’.
“However, it may not be the case for someone living in Sydney or other country regions.”
Upper Hunter Country Tourism president Trevor Kratzmann said the area’s exceptional character, together with its location and distance from Sydney and Newcastle, made the Upper Hunter an ideal destination.
“For a long time, the Upper Hunter has struggled to differentiate itself in the market place, often being overwhelmed by the established brands of Wine Country and Newcastle,” he said.
“It is our hope the Upper Hunter Country brand, combined with a destination management plan, will change this.
“We’re now within 90 minutes of Newcastle and two-and-a-half hours from Sydney, with the opening of the Hunter Expressway.
“In order to take advantage of this, we need to come together united behind this new branding initiative and market, not only as a range of individual products and experiences, but as a destination.”
PROMISING CONCEPT: Upper Hunter MP George Souris and Muswellbrook Shire mayor Martin Rush at Monday’s Upper Hunter Country launch.
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