Adequate signage needed to attract tourists off new highway
TOURIST destinations are at risk of dropping off the map if something isn't done to attract visitors off the new Pacific Hwy, Blanchard Haulage family business member Christopher Blanchard said.
Adequate signposting welcoming motorists to the area and pointing to tourist areas are important, but Mr Blanchard said compared to many towns across Australia, the Clarence Valley is currently lacking, and will need to do more in the future once the Pacific Hwy upgrade is completed.
"I had two months back on interstate work which gave me a chance to compare the approaches, welcomes and signage of other towns to that of the Valley and I must say the quality and signage when entering towns in the Valley is nearly third world level," he said.
"If you go to places across the state like Moree, it actually surprises you that they do their welcoming signs outside the town.
"There are sculptures, an artwork that's far more appealing when you're entering a town, and looking at anything that is done in Yamba, Grafton or Maclean other places are doing a lot more to attract people."
On Facebook, James Patterson said sculptures had worked in other areas to attract people who might not otherwise visit.
"For a number of years I have suggested we need a huge art work off the highway near Grafton that encourages people to detour and explore," he said.
"The similar successful approach is the Angel of the North in Northern England.
"The Angel of the North is a major visitor attraction. It is seen by over 150,000 visitors a year and more than 90,000 drivers every day on the A1."
Keltie Foster on Facebook said tourist hot spots for the Clarence Valley are already off the main highway.
"The area needs a tourism media campaign now, not in five years," she said.
"If it is appealing enough, highway or not, they will visit." Mr Blanchard said the highway upgrade would increase the amount of traffic driving past the area, and something would need to be done to attract motorists off the highway.
"Ninety-five per cent of traffic on the highway only has on their mind they want to get from A to B, and they don't really want to divert," he said.
"A percentage of the traffic is willing to divert, and you have to do something to promote yourself to try and attract that tourist base."
Mr Blanchard believes the answer is a service centre at Glenugie that includes a Clarence Valley tourist centre to promote the valley and let travellers know what there is to see and do in the area.
"It's one of those things where you can't sit back, it's not getting delivered to our front door, it's driving right past," he said.