Pacific Highway upgrade boosts bypassed towns

16 December 2020

The Pacific Highway upgrade is taking trucks and traffic out of town centres, allowing bypassed towns to revitalise and capitalise on increased visitor numbers.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said COVID, bushfires and drought had all contributed to a downturn in the nation’s economy, and communities in the North Coast had been amongst the hardest hit. 

“With international borders remaining closed for the foreseeable future, now is the perfect time to explore the incredible holiday destinations in New South Wales’ backyard,” Mr Barilaro said.

“The completion of the Pacific Highway upgrade will inject life and money into regional towns, with local businesses and hospitality venues benefitting directly from the increased volume of traffic to their regions. 

“The bypasses have allowed smaller towns to beautify their town centres and remove the hazard of traffic congestion making them safer and stronger places to live and visit.” 

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said the completion of Australia’s largest ever regional road infrastructure project had allowed the 30 towns bypassed by the 657-kilometre duplication between Hexham and the Queensland border to revitalise and grow.

“This multi-generational project hasn’t only delivered safer journeys, quicker travel times and improved freight efficiency, it’s also transforming regional communities right up and down the coast,” Mr Toole said.

“Data is telling us that businesses have been able to grow because of increased local trade, and tourism numbers have more than doubled in some cases.

“With less traffic through the main streets, it’s also allowed local communities and councils to reclaim the town centre, rejuvenating main streets.”

Member for Oxley Melinda Pavey said while some local communities had thrived from the bypass, it had also created some challenges for others.

“The NSW Government has worked with councils and local tourism organisations to build the appeal of bypassed towns and grow their visitor economies by capitalising on the improved amenity that results from reduced traffic flow,” Mrs Pavey said. 

“We have since rolled out the biggest directional signage in the state to showcase what each bypassed town has to offer, sending tourist dollars to town.

“These signs are already proving a huge win, with local businesses seeing an increase in patronage and revenue, and tourist numbers up right across the board.

“Kempsey alone has attracted about 4.5 million visitors since the introduction of the bypass seven years ago (Tourism Research Australia), and that’s largely because the local community has made the town more attractive to visitors, strengthening the local economy.” 

Kempsey Shire Mayor Liz Campbell credits the town’s growth in tourism to local business owners who have innovated, attracting motorists and holidaymakers to pull off the highway and stop in at Kempsey. 

“Businesses have created websites and embraced social media, as well as improved the appearance and branding of their business, with some even adjusting their menus,” Cr Campbell said.

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