Tweed facing a huge task

By LEONIE BRANN

A BIG vacancy sign is hanging over the "New Tweed Coast" ? but if we don't attract the tourists it may be gloom time, rather than boom time, a local industry body has warned.

Another 650 hotel rooms have been added to the Tweed Coast's accommodation stock this year, and hundreds more are poised to come on line by the end of 2006, but empty rooms won't bring extra money to the district, Tweed and Coolangatta Tourism Incorporated (TACTIC) general manager Terry Watson has warned.

"To get this growth, to get the extra beds filled, we need to plan for it," Mr Watson said.

"It won't be easy, this is one of the biggest challenges for the local industry and the Tweed community.

"It is not a case of build it and they will come ? we will have to attract tourists in a very aggressive market.

"All of the tourism suppliers need to work together on this, they need to hunt as a pack to make sure the Tweed as a destination succeeds."

Mr Watson said tourists needed to be made aware that what the Tweed could offer them was changing, with a burgeoning supply of quality accommodation located between Kingscliff and Cabarita.

He said these developments were attractive to people wanting to relax and recharge with a short-break rather than a longer stay.

Research by TACTIC shows visitor numbers to the district have grown from 390,000 in 2003 to 469,000 last year and latest projections put the Tweed on track to attract more than 600,000 visitors by 2008.

"We are working to find another 200,000 visitors in a competitive market. And to get these visitors we are going to need to take them from our competitors, and that is going to be the challenge," Mr Watson said.

"The new luxury developments will provide the Tweed with a well-rounded experience for the tourist, which is great from a destination point of view, giving the tourist more options for accommodation and activity."



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