Central West tourism is estimated to contribute $1.8 billion to the economy annually - but regional authorities say it is worth much more.
A survey of tourism providers and the community, costing $95,500, has just been initiated to find out the real value.
Western Research Institute, the Central NSW joint Organisation of Councils and 10 councils, including Orange City Council, are funding the study which is due to report back in December.
WRI CEO Kathy Woolley said it was important to assess the real value to give organisers more reliable estimates before running events and to provide better information for councils seeking government funding.
"We're confident it will fill an enormous void in how the region can equate the value of the tourism economy," she said.
"It's really powerful information."
She said the study would be conducted in two parts.
Each council will forward a survey to local accommodation providers for guests to fill in online.
The public can also complete an online survey to assess the amount spent by visiting friends and family who stay with them.
Ms Woolley said the $1.8 billion estimate, compiled by Destination NSW, had several gaps including not covering any accommodation places with less than 15 beds.
It also did not include people who rented out their houses to visitors when big events were on in their area.
"There is a huge amount missing and it has been for years. There is a lag in the data, it is not a robust sample," she said.
"The WRI Regional Tourism model will also include additional data to build a more complete picture of the number and the impact visitors to the Central West have," Ms Woolley said.
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