Expect to see more cruise ships at Illawarra ports, events and activities at the new Shellharbour Marina and more tourists in the next 20 years.
The state government has released the NSW South Coast Marine Tourism Strategy which outlines a two-decade vision to leverage the economic benefits of marine tourism in Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama and the South Coast.
The government plans to work with industry to develop, market and take advantage of marine tourism opportunities.
Parliamentary Secretary for the South Coast and Kiama MP Gareth Ward said snorkelers, boaters and nature-lovers from around the world would make the South Coast a must visit travel destination once marine tourism experiences, events and attractions were expanded.
“Ten million people visited the South Coast in 2017 and given those numbers are set to surge to 14 million by 2030, we need to ensure the region is ready to receive the influx of tourists and reap the rewards of those extra tourism dollars,” he said.
“This strategy also includes an action plan that will showcase the South Coast to new markets, activate foreshore precincts and harbours, develop a cruise boating and voyaging network and create new and improved tourism experiences.
“This strategy will build on opportunities created by Shell Cove’s new 270-berth Shellharbour Marina and the NSW Government’s $44 million investment to extend the Port of Eden Breakwater Wharf.”
The South Coast is already known nationally and internationally for its popular beaches, recreational boating and whale watching, a thriving arts, culture and heritage scene as well nature and adventure activities.
“The South Coast’s smaller ports and destinations have potential for growth in the expedition, luxury and specialty cruise sectors,” the report said.
The government will continue to promote the region’s ‘whole-of-coast’ boating and nature-based tourism experiences and will prioritise the development of mid-week and shoulder season events and experiences, including regattas and arts and culture-based events.
To attract daytrip visitation, ‘pop up’ businesses will be encouraged and Surf Life Saving Clubs and lighthouses could become attractions.
The government will also investigate what is required to establish a boating network and wants to increase the recreational fishing market as well as nature-based experiences such as bird and whale watching.
Greens MLC and Illawarra spokesman Justin Field said the plan was a “pre-election thought bubble that failed to protect the environmental values of the South Coast”.
“When the community hears the terms like "foreshore precinct and harbour activation", they know it’s code for more residential development and commercialisation along our coastline and they are right to be concerned,” he said.
"This plan looks more like a blueprint for developers rather than a plan for a sustainable tourism industry.”
The strategy was developed in partnership with the Illawarra Shoalhaven Joint Organisation and Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama, Shoalhaven, Eurobodalla and Bega councils and delivery is set to commence immediately with meetings held to develop a framework to track progress.
The strategy can be viewed on the state government’s website.