Working with key stakeholders, MidCoast Council has engaged leading international tourism and trails specialists, TRC Tourism, to develop a feasibility study for a proposed internationally significant 'Great Lakes Great Walks and Aquatic Trail' along a 100km stretch of coast from Forster to Hawks Nest, incorporating Myall Lakes and Booti Booti National Parks.
- Nature-based adventure tourism (NBAT) is already a recognised market for the Great Lakes area, identified as a niche market with key growth potential in the MidCoast's Destination Management Plan (DMP), which was completed last year.
- The DMP estimates that over $695 million annually could be generated by 2030 in the area of NBAT in the MidCoast.
- One of the DMP's key recommendations to achieve this growth is the development of the Great Walk.
- NBAT is a fast growing market, including women's adventure and combination adventure segments. This market is seeking a nature-based break involving a range of pursuits such as walking, cycling and kayaking, matched with high quality accommodation, local produce and immersive cultural experiences. Importantly this is also a high yield market.
- The MidCoast's proximity to Sydney and the ability to leverage new international air access into Newcastle Airport supports the feasibility of the project.
Council has secured funding for development of a feasibility assessment and masterplan through a Tourism Demand-Driver Infrastructure grant of $100,000 - which will be matched by Council and project partner National Parks & Wildlife Services.
The feasibility analysis will determine the case for investment, economic viability and identification of risks for the proposal. The consultants will also develop an implementation plan to activate the Great Lakes Great Walk & Aquatic Trails - looking at a staged approach to match investment priorities in tourism related infrastructure, experience based products and accommodation supply.
The Masterplan will identify the appropriate mix of visitor accommodation as well as opportunities for new high-quality experience based tourism products, including potential indigenous cultural experiences.
Key to the project is full consultation with the MidCoast community, Council, NSW government agencies, businesses, land owners, potential investors, and local Aboriginal communities.