Letter: A case against ‘Barrington Coast’

MidCoast Council has been asked by Destination NSW/the NSW Government to devise a single overarching destination name for tourism promotion but the task is proving to be unrealistic with the contrived/compromise name of Barrington Coast emerging

I will be amazed and delighted if a commercially acceptable and marketable name can be developed but the confusing and not publicly supported Barrington Coast description is not the answer, nor is it expedient to compromise in any form.

In recent letters to the editor, from John Stevens and Alan Tickle, the correspondents have submitted arguments which appear to be compelling in favour of the proposed Barrington Coast destination name but with the greatest respect to the two gentlemen, I contend that their arguments are esoteric, academic and unjustifiably alarmist. They have been lured by convincing consultants and their comments are lacking in the targeted objectivity required to effectively reach and convince potential tourists to visit our region.

Our external consultants have seemingly convinced some of our councillors and Messrs Stevens and Tickle, but not the populace at large, that we must have a single destination name to promote our now combined region. However, coming up with an umbrella name to effectively and understandably describe our new vast region with its many and varied fantastic attractions, appealing to an extremely varied target audience, is proving to be Mission Impossible.

Barrington Coast is a contrived concoction. Sure it defines the eastern and western extremities of our region but do the people we are trying to attract care. Forget about the stated objective of having “locators”, there is a need to be pragmatic and focus on tourists’ primary interests. Some of our target audience of potential tourists will be primarily seeking coastal holidays, others will be attracted by the natural splendour of the Manning Valley and nature lovers will be lured to the Barrington Tops and Gloucester.

Each tourist category can be separately targeted under existing well recognised destination names. All that is needed to achieve a destination link is that there must be recognition in the separate tourism promotions that they are not necessarily mutually exclusive and that, whilst coastal holidays attract by far the largest number, there is very high potential growth in eco and adventure tourism in the Manning and Gloucester regions.

The best path to successful promotion of tourism by MidCoast Council is to ditch the notion of having one overarching destination name. This will require substantial expenditure just to explain the concocted Barrington Coast name.

Instead,  build upon the substantial tourism investments of the past and the very solid foundations and successes that have been achieved by continuing to promote the three regions separately, highlighting their specific attractions. The highly desirable regional link can be achieved, not by a single overarching name, but by referring favourably in each separate campaign to the conveniently accessible attractions of the two adjoining regions within our boundaries.

Residents of Mid Coast have the vital opportunity to voice their opinions at community consultation meetings in Taree and Forster on Friday, August 17. These are timed to be prior to the next council meeting on Wednesday, August 22 at which councillors will vote on a rescission motion, effectively to reject the Barrington Coast Destination Name which was adopted at the July council meeting by the narrow margin of six to five.

It is also vital that councillors should be prepared to objectively and responsibly review their opinions, taking community opinion into account. Heed should be taken of the theme of Local Government Week this week which is, very appropriately, “The Power of Community”.

Jim Morwitch