Visitor Economy Taskforce NSW argues for authenticity and development controls

The long awaited Visitor Economy Taskforce Report (VET)to the NSW Government includes recommendations proposed by the ICRT – Australia’s White Paper ‘ Building Tourism from the bottom up’ sent to the VET committee.  At the heart of the VET report is the recognition that consumers are seeking an authentic experience, very much a core principle discussed by Professor Harold Goodwin, (associate director of the ICRT – Australia)  in his book Taking Responsibility for Tourism and identified as a contributor to the Responsible Tourism movement. The ICRT – Australia argued that key to building this authenticity was to find the unique points of difference within a precinct and destination.

An approach reflected in the VET Report. “Destinations must work to integrate arts, culture, events, nature, heritage and other visitor experience development initiatives into their Destination Management Planning. This will allow destinations to strategically position themselves in delivering experiences where they have comparative strengths, building on their key attributes to be more appealing to visitors and providing visitors with a more authentic and satisfying stay” VET Report page 129.

The VET report acknowledges that the responsibility of building tourism’s economic sustainability lies with destinations which research and plan to maximise positive impacts. It also requires destinations to identify their competitive points of difference through their Local Distinctiveness qualities, as recommended by the ICRT – Australia’s White Paper.

The report recommends that the unique local qualities be protected “against encroachment by other forms of development activity which may impact on their sustainability or potential to contribute to the visitor economy.” VET Report page 78. This was also strongly recommendation in the ICRT – Australia’s White Paper.