Happy New Year to everyone and I hope you all enjoyed and continue to enjoy a busy and prosperous holiday season. It’s been great to see visitors flocking the Dungog Shire over the last couple of weeks, even with extremely high temps there has been a steady stream of holiday makers and day-trippers. Many stopping, shopping, eating and stocking up. All of this contributes to the local economy.
Wendy Farrow from the Dungog Shire Visitor Information Centre has reported solid visitation to the VIC with about 265 people in a five-day period between Thursday, December 26 and Monday, December 31, 2018. Numbers have also been high in the New Year with enquiries mainly in relation to camping and swimming spots.
Mike Hill, Partnerships Leader, Forestry Corporation of NSW (FCNSW) has provided Dungog Regional Tourism and Dungog Shire Council with estimates of visitation to the Chichester State Forest over the Christmas-New Year period. Mike and his colleagues conducted a four-day blitz in the Upper Allyn precinct from Saturday, December 29, 2018 to Tuesday, January 1, 2019. The figures provided by Mike show that there were 668 vehicles entering the forest (previous year comparison 362 vehicles over three days), which is 38% increase in vehicle numbers (daily average). This relates to 1,905 individuals entering the forest over this four-day period (previous year comparison 1,054 individuals over three days), which is 36% increase in daily visitor numbers. About 30% of visitors were campers and the balance day visitors, and this proportion is fairly consistent with last year, and the majority were family groups.
FCNSW officers and field staff have been working very hard to address anti-social behaviour in the forests, and in particular in the Upper Allyn with an entry/check point near the Upper Allyn village. Policing has also been increased including police on trail bikes and some policing paid for by FCNSW. The report from Mike clearly shows that visitor behaviour is improving, but of course continued vigilance is no doubt necessary, visitor numbers are increasing and Forestry Corporation of NSW efforts and policies are working.
The Board of Dungog Regional Tourism has supported FCNSW in their endeavours and has applied for funding under the NSW Regional, Growth, Environment and Tourism Fund to further this partnership, along with the improvement in other publicly owned camping facilities across the shire. Camping, without a doubt seems to be the preferred method of vacation these days. Finally, I would like to acknowledge and thank Ivan Skaines for this continued support to the DDCC during his employment with Dungog Shire Council in his role as Economic Development and Tourism Officer. Ivan has contributed regularly to this column together with our many chamber promotions and initiatives over many years, for which we are very grateful.