ORANGE’S reputation as a wine and food destination remains one of the key reasons visitors come to the area, but Taste Orange executive officer Rhonda Sear believes visitation will grow even further with more emphasis on areas like health, education and mining.
Orange City Council’s 10-year tourism strategy estimates visitation to Orange will increase by 16 per cent from 656,000 in 2010 to 763,000 in 2021, but suggests the numbers could skyrocket if elements of the strategy to boost visitors to Orange are taken on board.
Ms Sear said Orange needed to build a stronger tourism product to cater for a broader audience.
“Wine and food tourism is of interest to a certain audience but there’s also a certain element where we’re lacking in regards to our product,” she said.
“We do need a tourist park, which, as we all know, Orange sadly lacks. The demand exceeds what we can offer.”
Ms Sear said the museum would eventually be another attraction to Orange and would act as a starting point to highlight the area’s history.
She rejected suggestions for the focus of seasonal festivals to shift from locals to tourists.
“Slow Summer and Frost Fest are community events we are contracted by Orange City Council to host and manage,” she said.
“We don’t want to lose sight of what we are doing. We want to give something back to the community. It helps retain valuable people in the community.”
Ms Sear supported calls for a garden festival but said Orange had to be careful not to “over-festivalise” the region and make sure all groups were included.
She said Taste Orange had met with Brindabella Airlines to build a strong partnership and encourage them to start a service in Orange.
She hopes visitation increases when the airline comes on board in February but says the group also hopes to continue to work with existing carrier Regional Express (REX).
“It’s about building on new business markets by putting a bit more effort into promoting flights to Orange. [Brindabella] will link us with a lot of other destinations,” she said.