'No appetite' for trains on Northern Rivers
WHEN Casino shop owner Peter Boughey asked the Destination North Coast board members if trains were ever coming back to the region, the reply was certain.
"Unequivocally no," general manager Michael Thurston said.
"There are no trains coming back. The State Government runs the trains and has no appetite for them."
The recent funding for a rail trail was on track, he said.
"The rail trail will keep the land in public hands."
For train lovers and groups fighting to bring the trains back, it is bad news.
Destination North Coast believes the rail trail where people can cycle and walk through the countryside will pull in visitors.
The Casino section of the rail trail has Federal Government funding of $7.5million while the Tweed section is expected to be completed by the end of next year.
Destination North Coast holds its monthly board meetings in different locations and last week they were in Richmond Valley at the Casino Community and Cultural Centre.
After their meeting they met with business and tourism industry representatives for a chat.
The organisation gives advice on projects and revitalising tourism in regional towns.
"A day tripper spends $105 on a visit," Mr Thurston said.
"We want to improve the visitor experience and maximise the visitor economy."
One way is to bring hero products to life, such as Casino's Beef Week.
The North Coast is the seventh most visited region in Australia and there was a lot of discussion about enticing visitors from the coast, and in particular Byron Bay, to visit the area.
Destination North Coast help organisations apply for funding from Destination NSW.
One business owner was concerned about Casino's CBD and how it could become a "ghost town".
Destination North Coast chairman Cameron Arnold said all country towns were feeling the pinch of the drought and the resulting downturn in business.
"Narrabri is two-thirds empty," Mr Arnold said.
Product development was the key, he said.
Industry engagement manager Jacquie Burnside said the rail trail would attract a high-spend population.
The rail trail in the Casino region is expected to be completed by 2021.