Newcastle council has listed investigating a waterfront convention centre among a host of initiatives in a four-year blueprint to make the city one of the country's premier tourist destinations.
The council's draft Destination Management Plan 2021-25, to be considered for exhibition on Tuesday night, provides a guide to ensure the growth and viability of the city's visitor economy.
It identifies opportunities to help make the city a more attractive destination across seven themes, including: identity, awareness and placemaking; connectivity and capacity; nature, coastal and wellness; creativity, culture and heritage; nightlife, food and wine; events, festivals and conferencing; product development and industry collaboration.
Among the short-term initiatives are redeveloping the city's ocean baths, revitalising Bathers Way, establishing the flagship cultural event New Annual, creating Aboriginal cultural experiences, enhancing night-time activations, attracting more and a broader range of events, fostering greater industry collaboration and improving marketing.
The council has also listed investigating a waterfront convention centre as a short-term initiative, proposing a feasibility study be undertaken and a business case for the facility be developed.
The Hunter and Central Coast Development Corporation and the University of Newcastle are listed as stakeholders. The plan suggests private sector investment or a public-private partnership should be explored.
It is not clear who would investigate the convention centre, but the document makes clear for the overall plan to be effective it requires the support of the state government, industry groups and the private sector.
Medium-term initiatives, to be pursued in three to four years, include advocating for more Newcastle Airport flight routes, upgrading amenities in Glenrock State Conservation Area and enhancing Hunter Street Mall.
Initiatives listed but beyond the plan's four-year timeframe include developing the Richmond Vale Rail Trail, Broadmeadow precinct and light rail extension.
Lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes described the DMP as a "visionary tool" that would be "instrumental to driving Newcastle's social and economic recovery" from the impact of COVID-19.
Prior to the pandemic, Newcastle's tourism industry contributed $1 billion to the local economy each year.
"We aim to build a thriving visitor economy ... that will lead to population, economic and jobs growth," she said.
"To succeed as a sector, industry, government and operators need to collaborate and find ways to work together, by positioning Newcastle as the destination of choice in order to attract the tourist dollar, in an increasingly competitive market."
A convention centre was one of the most suggested ideas for HCCDC's last parcel of Honeysuckle land in a recent consultation process.
The Cairns Convention Centre, which is undergoing a $176 million upgrade, routinely hosts a variety of events and has twice been voted the world's best congress centre.
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