Penrith businesses must work together, aim high, invest in new ventures and embrace a positive outlook in order to grow a sustainable tourism industry.
Those were the takeaway messages from Tuesday’s Lights On Penrith tourism forum, hosted by Penrith Valley Chamber.
Held at the Lakeside Restaurant at Penrith Lakes, the forum attracted nearly 80 businesspeople, including those from Western Sydney Parklands, Sydney Helicopters, Westfields and the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre.
Penrith State MP and NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said the transformation of Penrith and St Marys with about $20 billion in State and Federal funds in preparation for international touchdown at the new Western Sydney Airport was an exciting chapter for the city.
Penrith would soon become a holding location or launchpad for neighbouring areas, so should invest in tourism products and experiences to give visitors a reason to stay, explore and spend before moving on to other regions such as the Blue Mountains.
Rather than view those areas as competition, Penrith should collaborate with them, he said.
``The rising tide does really lift all boats. You'll be amazed at the opportunities that you can generate by interacting with other businesses just a little bit further away from the ones that you regularly engage with.’’
Penrith Council City Futures director Kylie Powell outlined the numerous tourism developments scheduled throughout the city, along with the festivals and events planned to help Penrith exceed the 1.4 million pre-pandemic visitor numbers.
Destination Sydney Surrounds North general manager Glenn Caldwell said Penrith had an impressive range of tourism experiences already and encouraged the industry to embrace collaboration.
``We're not talking about tourism development 101 [for Penrith]. A lot of things that smaller regions are looking for and hoping to achieve, Penrith absolutely already has in place.’
Winter Sports World managing director Peter Magnisalis outlined what the $300 million development could mean for tourism locally and beyond and Penrith Lakes Development Corporation CEO Jacqui Vozzo spoke about sporting and tourism developments at the site, including the impending major movie studio.
Attendees joined the conversation by taking part in real-time surveys, which revealed that 60 per cent believed a negative traditional perception of Penrith was the biggest challenge to Penrith growing a sustainable tourism industry.
While 76 per cent said they would be prepared to invest in a co-operative marketing campaign, 77 per cent placed that as the top priority to help direct the focus and activities of the new Destination Penrith Taskforce.
Chamber president Kate Rafton said the event was a resounding success: ``Penrith is entering an exciting new era as a tourism destination, with unprecedented opportunities and funding.
``It’s a great time to be in business here as we, as the nearest city to the new airport, prepare to welcome tourists from around the globe at Australia’s newest gateway.’’
The forum will be followed by a Destination Penrith Expo at Penrith Panthers on March 31. The first Lights On Penrith event last March explored how business could leverage the opportunities available from a future of unprecedented development and investment planned for the region.