A LOCAL tourism leader has called on the city to do more to activate Wollongong’s winter wonderland potential.
Novotel Northbeach general manager and Destination Wollongong board member Steve Savic said Wollongong still had so much potential over the winter season.
His comments come on the back of the Novotel operating an ice rink on the balcony of the hotel over the last month which he said had proven a success.
“I think the our key to growing tourism in general is the development of attractions to drive visitation into the area,’’ Mr Savic said.
“We do a lot in event space, Destination Wollongong does some great work in that space but its hard to attract events in winter.
“The sole reason we did the ice rink was to firstly give people a reason to come to the hotel in winter, secondly come to Wollongong in the winter and thirdly exposure for the region.
“It’s been amazing. We’ve had people from Western Sydney, Canberra and the South Coast come to Wollongong in July that wouldn’t have come ordinarily and when they are here they see other attractions and hopefully come back.”
Mr Savic said Wollongong could learn from regions like the Hunter and Ballarat, who have actively promoted winter as a tourism for their regions.
He called on more businesses and tourism operators to actively seek out winter opportunities.
“We are one operator and while individual businesses can drive it this has to be a collective – we don’t want to end up with three ice skating rinks,” he said.
“Someone might do a sculptures by the beach, someone might do a food and wine festival, someone might make it ‘snow’ and all of a sudden the city is a hive of activity.”
He said into the future, larger opportunities were becoming viable for the Illawarra.
“We need to give people another reason to visit and the key to that long term is the activation of the escarpment with mountain biking, a gondola – the big attractions we’ve been talking about for a long time in Wollongong,” Mr Savic said