Project Director applauds Forestry Corporation for support of Tourism

"We believe Forestry Corporation’s recognition of what state forests have to offer to the tourism market makes sound business sense and adds to the vibrancy of the region and to community life".

medium_Hello Koalas.jpgLetter addressed to North Coast Timber Taskforce from Hello Koalas Project Director

I am writing to you, as Project Director of the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail, to applaud the Forestry Corporation NSW for its contribution to tourism on the North Coast.

According to Destination NSW, in the year ending 2013, there were 11.3 million visitors to
the North Coast region, which covers Port Stephens to Tweed Heads. 86.9% visited the
region by motor vehicles, 9% by plane and 1.8% by train. Expenditure amounted to $3.6billion.

55% of visitors to the region came for ‘holiday or leisure’ reasons. In terms of international visitors, the UK (23.5%) was the region’s largest source of visitors and it is interesting to note there are increasing numbers of self drive visitors from Asia, prredominantly China, Singapore and India.

Tourism opportunities, which incorporate a combination of nature, eco, environmental and
cultural experiences, are particularly prized by families on holiday and the growing international markets.

Many people who take the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail say they are so appreciative of an
attraction which is largely outdoors and freely available and accessible to families, giving
the opportunity for three generations to enjoy a shared experience together. That is the
sort of praise we love to hear and that is the same experience that state forests offer.
Between September 2014 and January 2015, the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail attracted an
estimated 10,000 people a month. We know the widespread ‘love of the koala’ plays a big
part in that response. But, we have also been strategic in aligning the Hello Koalas
Sculpture Trail with sponsors who have synergistic objectives and aspirations such as
cultural tourism and promoting koala care and conservation.
Forestry Corporation of NSW has supported the design of “Forest”, located in the
Glasshouse and has also contributed to the design of “Guula”, painted by members of the
Aboriginal art class at Wauchope TAFE, and located in Bain Park.

State forests provide access to natural koala habitat and are a treasure trove for visitors to
enjoy. “Forest”, hand painted by local artist Pauline Roods, depicts 120 species of flora and
fauna in our local state forests and has made many people much more aware of life in the
forest including myself.

We have loved the response by school children to “Forest” and their engagement with the
activity sheets that FCNSW created for school groups to the Glasshouse.

Recently, 84 year two students from St Agnes Primary School went on a school excursion
and viewed 15 Hello Koala Sculptures. The students started at Westport Park and walked
all the way to the foreshore and on to the Mid North Coast Maritime Museum.
According to their teacher Kara de Maria, the excursion linked in with the education
program for the school, which currently has a focus on wet and dry environments in HSIE
subjects, and allowed the students to gain a better understanding of what the koalas
represented and their meaning. "Not only does it give them a better awareness of the koala, but they all have a healthy respect for art now too," she said. "It's great to see that they understand what the sculptures are all about," she said. "The kids have been talking about the excursion for about five weeks."

Cultural tourism is the principal objective of the Hello Koalas Sculpture Project and in a
short space of time, the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail has become beloved of the Port
Macquarie-Hastings community and the many visitors who come to the region for holidays
and business.

We believe Forestry Corporation’s recognition of what state forests have to offer to the
tourism market makes sound business sense and adds to the vibrancy of the region and to
community life. FCNSW has been visionary in developing award winning projects such as
the new viewing platform, walking track and picnic facilities at Wauchope's iconic Old
Bottlebutt, the largest red bloodwood tree in the southern hemisphere, and the ‘Experience
a Forest Playground’ destination marketing campaign. And we very much appreciate the
support that Forestry Corporation has given to the Hello Koalas Sculpture Project.

Signed By Margret Meagher, Project Director, Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail