Build more tourist accommodation, says Wales
A lack of suitable accommodation could be stopping tourists from visiting the Peninsula other than for day trips.
"This summer we saw an extraordinary number of visitors come into the area but sadly I think they were mostly day tripper visitors," said Peninsula Chamber of Commerce president Mr Matthew Wales.
"My observation is we are not capitalising on the overnight stays and the perception is there is not a coherent program to ensure people stay here for more than a night," Mr Wales said.
"Part of the problem is due to a shortage of good-quality accommodation and our Chamber's view is that we should be encouraging development options that provide serviced apartments and good-quality hotel accommodation.
"The Mantra and Ettalong Beach Tourist Resort are not enough.
"A good indication of the level of increase in interest in places, particularly like Ettalong, is the rate of sales in the Atlantis Resort (the new mixed-use development on The Esplanade, opposite the Mantra on Memorial Ave) where I believe the agent is running out of stock in the off-the-plan sales period," he said.
Mr Wales said he believed at least some of the development underway in Umina and Ettalong would end up increasing the stock of accommodation available for tourists.
"I know for a fact developers who are building high-quality residential space between Ettalong and Umina are experiencing almost record prices and record inquiry levels so that says to me people want to be here, but we are not providing the accommodation they need, particularly for more than overnight stays.
"It makes the Chamber question what Central Coast Tourism has been delivering and what they are actually doing to translate that interest into developments that provide needed accommodation.
"One of the shortcomings of our current tourism policy is that it is not driving in a practical way the solution to get people to stay here.
"This is particularly true when you think about when NorthConnex is finished the Central Coast is going to be so easy to get to from Western Sydney that we risk being overwhelmed by people who want to stay here and we can't provide for them.
"That would be a tragedy."
Mr Wales said he hoped the Central Coast Council's current process to invite expressions of interest, to be followed by an open tender process, to find an organisation to take over marketing of the region as a tourist destination would provide positive outcomes.
"I do honestly believe there is a need for a dedicated organisation even if it is within the structure of the council and I would encourage council to have internal team," he said.
Interview, 18 Jan 2017
Matthew Wales, Peninsula Chamber of Commerce
Reporter: Jackie Pearson