The Sports Tourism Partnership is a program supported by Clarence Valley Council and a handful of local business partners, to attract major sporting events to the region. Mark Mitchell is a double supporter of the Sports Tourism Partnership through his businesses, the Blue Dolphin Holiday Resort and Angourie Rainforest Resort. Combined, the resorts have 160 rooms, accommodating thousands of tourists in Yamba every year. ‘We have a fairly big stake in tourism with Angourie and the Blue Dolphin so it makes sense to support the Sports Tourism Partnership,’ Mr Mitchell said. But Mr Mitchell’s support was not only about attracting sports tourists to his businesses. ‘The sports events that come to town do supplement our existing trade, but the money tourists spend, spreads across the Valley,’ Mr Mitchell said. ‘The sports tourism partnership is an integral part of a bigger picture, of boosting the local economy.’ Mr Mitchell said it would be great to see more businesses that benefit from tourism, investing in the sports tourism partnership. Yamba is a tourist town, where most of the businesses rely to some extent on tourism for income. The town has also been benefitting from the boom the highway upgrade has bought to the area. Mr Mitchell said they have made a conscious decision with both of their businesses, to focus on tourism, despite the high demand in Yamba for short term accommodation from highway workers. ‘We still want a viable tourism industry that carries through beyond the highway upgrade,’ he said. ‘The fabric of what Yamba is, is tourism.’ As for personal sporting endeavours, Mr Mitchell said he likes playing golf and skiing, and both of his sons have been successful motocross riders. His three children are now working for the family business. Daughter, Danielle Oppes manages the Angourie Rainforest Resort and his eldest son, Mathew, manages the Blue Dolphin Holiday Resort. His youngest son, Jed, is an apprentice carpenter building new apartments at the Blue Dolphin. Major sporting events inject millions of dollars into the Clarence Valley every year Over $4 million is expected to be spent in the region this year by sports competitors, and their supporters, visiting the Clarence for sporting events. The biggest event on the calendar for 2018 is the Junior Girls Under 15 State Championships coming to Grafton this month. More than 500 hockey players, plus their support teams, will descend on Grafton for the championships. They are expected to inject $1,170,000 into the local economy over three days. Clarence Valley Council’s promotions and events officer Alicia Savelloni said the estimated spend of a sports tourist was calculated on the daily spend of $276 per person per night, a figure provided by Tourism Research Australia. “It’s not just all of the competitors who come to town, but their families and supporters – all with their wallets open, spending money on accommodation, food, and shopping in their down time,” Ms Savelloni said. But big sports events don’t just turn up Sporting bodies expected financial support to take their events to regional centres, and in the case of the state hockey finals, NSW Hockey required $10,000 to host the event in Grafton. The costs associated with bringing sports events to the Clarence were paid for by the Sports Tourism Partner Program, a program supported by Council and a handful of local businesses including GJ Gardener Grafton, Australia Post Yamba and Grafton, Angourie Rainforest Resort, Blue Dolphin Holiday Resort and media partner Clarence Valley Independent. “Without this program, these events would not be coming to the region,” Ms Savelloni said. Ms Savelloni said the financial benefits of sports tourism to small business across the valley far outweighed the costs. The Sports Tourism Partner Program expected to bring $24.3 million dollars into the Clarence Valley between 2013-2021, for an estimated spend of $223,050 in hosting fees. “We invite visitors to come and play sport here, stay over and enjoy what we like about the place, and we prosper financially, or perhaps from exposure, or simply from the joy of seeing our town buzzing and alive,” Ms Savelloni said. Other major sporting events coming to the Clarence Valley in 2018 include the Adventurethon in Clarence hinterland, Lloyd McDermott Girls Rugby Union in Grafton, and the Yamba Triathlon.