Newcastle saxophonist Liam Eastwell, Little Beach Boathouse head chef Ben Way and Nelson Bay Fish Market co-owner Darryn Hearn near D’Albora Marinas ahead of the Love Sea Food event last year. Photo: Peter Stoop

Port Stephens tourism has been given a helping hand after two major events received $20,000 each to support them through the pandemic.

The NSW Government, via its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, awarded Love Sea Food and the Port Stephens MultiSport Festival a share of $1 million from the 2020 Regional Event Fund.

Destination Port Stephens Chief Executive, Eileen Gilliland, said it was the third year Love Sea Food had received funding from the NSW Government’s Regional Event Fund.

“The event has been held annually for the past four years in August,” she said.

“Due to COVID-19 restrictions on mass gatherings, this year’s event will be postponed until August 2021.

“Love Sea Food is a month-long event that showcases the fresh local seafood the region is renowned for, the people who catch, farm and cook (local chefs) and the incredible place it comes from — Port Stephens.

“Last year, over 10,000 people attended the festival weekend and many events throughout the month sold-out, including the Port to Plate Gala Dinner, seafood cooking classes and signature lunch and dinner events held at various venues in Port Stephens during August.”

Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, Catherine Cusack, said the funding was fantastic news for the region.

“I can’t wait to see fresh local seafood and produce at the next Love Sea Food event, and competitors running, swimming and riding across beautiful Port Stephens in the popular multi sport festival, when we can all safely enjoy social gatherings once again,” she said.

The view from one of Port Stephens’ most iconic locations – Mount Tomaree.

The funding coincides with a new tourism campaign, Incredible By Nature, which was launched last week in a bid to attract young and active couples to the location.

Port Stephens Mayor, Ryan Palmer, said it was an ideal time to launch the travel campaign to help restart the local economy.

“Our local community, like many others across Australia, is still dealing with the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

“This exciting new campaign will put Port Stephens top-of-mind for domestic travellers at a crucial time — when we need to restart the visitor economy that our community thrives on.”

Destination Port Stephens successfully applied for and matched dollar-for-dollar funding from Destination NSW under the Regional Tourism Fund (RTF) Marketing Program to be able to create and implement the new destination brand and marketing campaign.

Chairman Andrew Macdonald said the Incredible By Nature campaign puts the natural wonders of Port Stephens front and centre.

“The seascapes and landscapes here are an idyllic backdrop for the many amazing experiences that feature in our campaign — from quad biking and sandboarding down the largest moving dunes in the Southern Hemisphere, to swimming with wild dolphins and hiking through bushland to the top of Mount Tomaree,” he said.

Visit Destination Port Stephens’ website for more information.

Cooranbong Gardens
Cooranbong Gardens