River and lakes have potential to draw thousands

PENRITH'S tourism potential is still untapped, despite the many visitors every year, according to local businesses and authorities concerned with the industry.

"Penrith offers action, adventure and recreation with spectacular scenery and world-class facilities, such as Penrith Whitewater and the Sydney International Regatta Centre," Penrith Council's marketing manager Barbara Magee said.

"Just one highlight visitors can expect is an amazing atmosphere in the lead-up to the 2013 World Rowing Cup [at the regatta centre]."

Penrith Lakes Development Corporation's project director Mick O'Brien said the International Regatta Centre and the neighbouring White Water Stadium could be the start of something larger.

"Penrith Lakes has the potential to evolve into the jewel of western Sydney and one of the major attractions as magnificent urban parklands," Mr O'Brien said.

"While the system of parklands and lakes could be a huge magnet [for tourists], the future development and uses of the park and lakes are matters for the government as long-term owners of Penrith Lakes [after 2015]."

Penrith Business Alliance chairman Paul Brennan said Penrith Lakes had already proven its worth as a tourist draw with events such as the Defqon music festival.

"That fills up every hotel for miles around," Mr Brennan said.

"There are a lot of things going on, be it rock concerts or speedboat racing."

He said the Nepean River also drew visitors, but more infrastructure was needed.

The Nepean Belle paddlewheeler and Penrith Platypus cruises offer visitors trips on the river.

Nepean Belle founder and operator John Wakeling said Penrith Council promoted the region well, but local businesses had to navigate complex planning requirements.

He said his business had already built canoes and a cafe to draw more visitors.

"Penrith attracts a number of major events to facilities such as the Regatta Centre and Panthers," Mr Wakeling said.

"It's important that co-ordination arrangements are in place so that other smaller businesses have an opportunity to capitalise."

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