Published by: The Daily Telegraph
I want to tell you all something but you have to promise not to laugh.
Western Sydney is a great tourist destination.
It is pretty hard to think of Western Sydney as a popular tourist hot spot if you're sitting at the beach at Bondi or walking up the steps of the Opera House, but guess what, our region has a thriving visitor economy.
In fact, a Western Sydney Business Chamber and Deloitte Access Economics report found it is the fastest growing visitor economy in NSW.
One of the challenges is that the tourists in Western Sydney look just like the locals. And that's because they are visiting friends and relatives.
As someone who lives, works and loves Western Sydney, I am constantly amazed with the diversity and opportunity across our region.
Western Sydney has so much to offer. We have great parks and gardens, sporting and cultural facilities, excellent universities and new infrastructure, such as the Western Sydney Airport and Metro West on the way.
Simply put, we have all the ingredients for success.
However, we are sometimes let down by those that do not share the same vision and passion for success in our region.
A perfect example of this is tourism.
We have 35 major cultural arts venues and a range of cultural events and festivals that uniquely reflect Western Sydney's character and multicultural background.
For example, the Riverside Theatres in Parramatta, Casula Powerhouse in Liverpool, the Joan Sutherland Theatre in Penrith and Campbelltown Arts Centre.
We also have many local, national and international sporting facilities, including most of the Olympic legacy assets such as Sydney Olympic Park, the new Bank West Stadium in Parramatta and the Sydney International Regatta Centre.
And of course the natural beauty Western Sydney has to offer such as the world famous Blue Mountains, Western Sydney Parklands and the Mt Annan Botanical Gardens, to name a few. We also have the visitors, with more than 9.6 million people visiting Western Sydney every year.
Despite all this, Western Sydney lacks a dedicated Destination Network.
Destination Networks are state government-appointed bodies, which help co-ordinate industry and provide a pathway for funding opportunities for new tourism and marketing opportunities.
Every region in NSW has one of these Destination Networks but Western Sydney has missed out again and again.
We have to be leveraging our tourism efforts more effectively. We know the demand is there but we need a little help.
That is why in the lead up to the NSW Election the Western Sydney Business Chamber together with key tourism operators are calling on candidates to put Western Sydney on the tourism map and commit to a Destination Network for Western Sydney.
The region has all the right ingredients to become a tourism powerhouse. We just need some passion, vision and drive to help make it a reality.
David Borger is Executive Director of the Western Sydney Business Chamber