THE HERALD'S OPINION: Newcastle Visitor Economy Vision offers city tourism a decisive moment

TOURISM likely ranks as one of the least intrusive industries in the Hunter’s history.

It lacks the hard edges of steel or coal, and marries closely with the simple goal of making the city a better place to live. Put simply, it is mostly a win-win. 

But that comfort, and our appreciation for Newcastle’s hidden gems, can also breed complacency.

As the city’s tourism leaders illustrate, the industry’s growth comes in spite of the fact many of our best features remain hidden under a bushel.

There are few a visitor could find intuitively, although the Bathers Way is on the right path. 

It’s partly why the Newcastle Tourism Infrastructure Group has generated a vision of a visitor economy that would “conservatively” drive our tourism industry to more twice its size by 2027.

That is their starting point. Perhaps the most impressive part of the numbers in their report is that they grow even if we do nothing. But any growth to a $949.5 million industry likely translates to more jobs and opportunities.

Newcastle, like almost any other regional city, cannot boast it is oversupplied with either.

The document, which will be examined in depth in these pages over the next week, posits that it is remiss not to cast an eye beyond the city’s existing transformation towards what will keep the civic heart beating next.

With many hard lessons of how booms can end in Newcastle’s history, it is hubris to pretend a stronger string in our bow is not an asset. 

Each of these projects is a conversation in its own right, which may be the point.

Unifying them as one provides a glimpse of a very different Newcastle, just as a look forward from 2007 to today would. 

The devil will surely be in the detail for some if and when these projects mature and pass into the realm of planning and assessment.

But in these early days of quiet conversation, civic debate may be the best way to sand way rough edges in aid of larger compromise. 

These are projects that could define our city as starkly as Nobbys lighthouse, and the boldness of compiling them should be applauded.

If it becomes a blueprint by which we build our future it could make Broadmeadow, Stockton, the foreshore and King Edward Park very different places.

If they do not, each may help shape a better alternative.  

The plan is a conversation starter. As our city streets are lined with the works of our present wave of infrastructure arriving, and the associated stresses, it’s time to talk. 

Issue: 38,732

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