Experience Development Fund – Guidelines

18 November 2021

2021–22 Financial Year

Part of the Tourism Product Development Fund.


The NSW Government has announced that $2.5 million in Experience Development funding is available in 2021-22 to support the development of new tourism attractions and experiences in NSW.

Funding of between $80,000 and $150,000 excluding GST is available, per applicant, on a matched dollar-for-dollar basis for eligible project costs.

Projects can be of a much greater value; however, all additional costs will need to be covered by the applicant.

All applicants must be registered for GST and the existing or proposed tourism business must be located in NSW.

If the applicant is an existing tourism business, the tourism offering must:

  • have a current GetConnected (ATDW) listing [1]
  • be bookable online [2]
  • agree to update their GetConnected listing to reflect the new attraction or experience when it is open to visitors.

If the applicant is a new tourism business, they must agree to:

  • create a GetConnected (ATDW) listing once the attraction or experience is open to visitors
  • make the tourism offering bookable online2.

The new attraction or experience must be available to visitors for at least 50 weeks per calendar year [3].

[1] More information on Get Connected is available on the Destination NSW website

[2] An applicant from an area with no or limited internet connectivity, which results in online bookings not being viable for their business, may apply.

[3] Excluding any natural disasters or emergency orders which force the closure of the business to visitors.

What can I apply for?

The Experience Development Fund is available for creating new tourism attractions or experiences that directly aligns with the NSW strengths identified in the Visitor Economy Strategy (VES) 2030.

Funding of between $80,000 and $150,000 (excluding GST) on a matched dollar-for-dollar basis will be available for eligible project costs. See Terms and Conditions for more information on ineligible items.

What is matching funding?

For every dollar in funding you are requesting, you will need to have your own funds to (at least) match the funding being requested on a dollar for dollar basis.

You will need to demonstrate that, if you are successful, the funding grant plus your own investment is sufficient to cover the total cost of the work as outlined in your application budget.

Your investment must be in cash i.e. not contra or value in kind. It must be cash on hand i.e. your investment cannot rely on future income, such as, turnover or the sale of property. The investment can be in your own or any disclosed partner’s bank accounts or through a bank loan or overdraft.

You will need to provide evidence that these funds are available e.g. bank statements, at the time of your application. Should you be successful, you will need to confirm these funds are still available at the time of signing the Funding Agreement.

Who can apply?

Local Councils, Industry Associations and new or existing tourism operators based and operating in NSW, including Greater Sydney, can apply.

NSW Government owned, operated or managed businesses are not eligible applicants. Destination Networks are also not valid to apply for funding.

All applicants must be registered for GST.

How do I apply?

The Experience Development application is a two-stage process.

Applicants will initially submit an Expression of Interest (EOI). The EOI is a shorter form and will require less information and evidence from an applicant. Each submitted EOI will be assessed and a short list of the strongest eligible projects will be invited to submit a full application.

The forms can be accessed on the Tourism Product Development Fund page. Only online forms submitted through the online portal will be accepted. EOIs or Application Forms sent via email, post or fax will not be accepted.

Applicants are encouraged to read these guidelines carefully and to answer each question. Please review the Handy Hints Guide for more information and provide evidence, as requested, to support answers.

These Guidelines and the Handy Hints Guide have been developed to assist you in developing an eligible project and competitive application. Please read all the information and if you have any questions please contact your Destination Network or complete our enquiry form. For ‘Enquiry Type’ please select Tourism Product Development Fund from the drop-down list and for ‘Enquiry Area’ please select Experience Development Fund from the drop-down list. We will respond to your enquiry within 2 business days.

When can I apply?

There are two stages to the application process for Experience Development funding:

Stage Details
EOI Stage EOIs open: 18 November 2021
EOIs close: 16 January 2022, 11.59 pm (Sydney Time)
Application Stage Shortlisted applicants invited to complete full application:
Late February 2022
Applications close: 19 April 2022, Midnight (Sydney Time)

Only shortlisted EOIs will be invited to submit a full application for the grant funding.

Destination NSW aims to contact applicants within six weeks of the EOI closing date regarding the outcome of their EOI.

Applicants are encouraged to submit their forms prior to the closing date and time to ensure they encounter no technical difficulties.

No extensions to the submission day or time will be provided.

Destination NSW is not responsible for delays to the submission of applications caused by technology, connectivity or other issues outside of its control.

Assessment Considerations

EOI Stage

Destination NSW will consider the following factors when assessing the EOIs to determine which will be shortlisted:

  • Eligibility requirements
  • Project Proposed and supporting evidence
  • Strategic and Marketing Impacts/Benefits

Application Stage

Destination NSW will consider the following factors when assessing the applications to determine which applications are recommended for funding:

  1. Eligibility requirements
  2. Project Proposed and supporting evidence
  3. Economic impacts
  4. Strategic and Marketing Impacts/Benefits
  5. Capacity to deliver the project

More information regarding each of these factors is provided below. Please note the level of detail and information requested is less for the EOI stage. More detail and information is sought in the Application stage.

Project Proposed and supporting evidence

The Assessors will be evaluating the overall project proposed:

  • Is the project description clear? Has enough information been supplied to understand what the new attraction or experience to be developed is?
  • Is it a new attraction or experience for NSW, the Destination Network area, the Local Government Area or is it duplicating or similar to existing offerings in the area?
  • Has evidence been supplied to demonstrate the need or demand for the type of attraction or experience proposed?
  • If the project requires a DA (Development Approval), has this been obtained and a copy of the approval and the Council stamped plans attached to the application? An EOI may be submitted prior to the DA being approved, however, an application, if submitted without an approved DA, will not be competitive.
  • Is the budget detailed, reasonable and compliant? The application ‘Project Budget’ template will be considered under this criterion. Attaching a more detailed budget for the work with explanations of budget line items may strengthen the response.

Economic Impacts

This is the ability of the project to increase visitor expenditure and jobs in NSW, as a direct result of the project. The size and scale of a project will influence its potential to deliver positive impacts. The economic impact will be calculated based on the impact to the region or destination including:

  • The anticipated number of local, intrastate, interstate and international visitors
  • Their estimated daily expenditure
  • The opportunity for the activity to result in new long-term jobs in NSW.

Strategic and Marketing Impacts/Benefits:

This refers to the project’s effectiveness in driving outcomes for NSW. Factors considered include:

  • How strongly the project aligns with the VES 2030
  • How strongly the project aligns with the relevant Destination Management Plan
  • The project’s alignment with other relevant regional or local strategic plans
  • Appeal to key domestic markets
  • Appeal to international markets
  • Likelihood of the project being an iconic/hero destination or experience
  • Sustainability[4] initiatives or mitigations incorporated into the new attraction or experience and/or across the business more broadly.

Capacity to deliver the project

This refers to the applicant’s demonstrated ability to deliver and manage the proposed activity:

  • A successful business record. The applicant organisation’s business track record should be noted, e.g. evidence of growth, results of past product development activities (either grant or self-funded). If this is a new business, what skills do you and your team bring to running the business? Have you engaged an accountant and developed your costings and forecasts (income and expenditure) with them to confirm the business has the potential to be financially viable?
  • Adequate dedicated human resources to manage the project. Detailing the experience and skills of the project manager and team, as they relate to the nature of this project, is important.
  • Adequate systems and processes to manage and monitor. Detailing the systems/processes to be used is also important, e.g. a call to action, contracted online booking company, result measurement tools, project management software. How you will record the actual visitation numbers and source markets you forecast in your application form.
  • Corporate Governance. Clear and transparent procurement and decision-making processes.
  • Secured project funding. The applicant will need to detail the funds already secured for the project from their own sources, partners, or other. Any in-kind contributions can also be noted.  To show project sustainability, an indication of how ongoing costs will be funded post any grant should be included.
  • Investment in project planning and preparation. The applicant should highlight any preliminary work already undertaken showing a commitment to the project, e.g. preparing a business plan, scoping the work, engaging expert advice, preparing design layouts and concepts and estimates from suppliers for the work proposed.
  • Any reporting for projects funded through any previous DNSW funding program up to date and/or complete.
  • Applicants, who have received funding from any State Government body, will need to demonstrate they are up to date with their reporting and have met the funding program’s requirements.

[4] Sustainability relates to initiatives including, but not limited by, renewable energy use, green business practices, drought and bushfire mitigation, accessibility of the attraction/experience to visitors with physical or intellectual challenges.

If successful will I receive all the funding I am requesting?

The amount of funding offered to a successful project will be determined by Destination NSW and completely at its discretion. The NSW Government will offer a lesser amount if ineligible items have been included in the funding requested or if the project’s ROI, to the NSW Government, does not support the total funds requested.

Terms and Conditions

  1. The cost of the audit needs to be included in the project budget. The cost of the audit can be up to a maximum of 1 percent (1%) of the total project budget.
  2. Successful applicants will need to supply Destination NSW with a valid certificate of currency for public liability insurance with coverage of $20 million, noting Destination NSW as an interested party.
  3. An applicant must be able to match the funding on a dollar-for-dollar basis. This may be the applicant’s own money, partner investment and/or non-NSW State Government funding.  Where any Federal Government funding is being used as part of the ‘matched funds’, the applicant will need to provide details of the Funding Agreement to ensure there is no double up, i.e. utilising one amount of non-Government funding promised against multiple, separate Government Funding Agreements for delivering the same outcome.
  4. ‘In-kind’ support is not eligible for ‘matched funding’. The matched dollar-for-dollar funds must be cash only.
  5. Successful applications will receive funding of between $80,000 and $150,000 excluding GST towards eligible Experience Development activities. These funds must be at least matched dollar-for-dollar by the successful applicant. All ineligible items and costs greater than the grant plus matching cash must be met by the applicant’s own ‘on hand’ cash funds.
  6. Funds will not be available until after a Funding Agreement is signed by Destination NSW and the successful applicant, and all requirements of each milestone are met.
  7. The earliest project start date is the date a Funding Agreement is signed by both Destination NSW and the applicant. No activities described in the Funding Agreement or included in the budget can commence prior to the Funding Agreement being signed.
  8. A payment schedule will be developed, in consultation with the applicant, and linked to the agreed milestones. Projects generally have three or four milestone payments. Payments will be made to the applicant after they satisfactorily demonstrate that they have met the milestone requirement.
  9. Ten percent (10%) of the funding will be withheld for the final milestone payment which requires the applicant to satisfactorily submit a final report. The final report includes an overview of the project undertaken, a financial reconciliation, independent audit of the investment and expenditure for the project and reporting against key performance indicators (KPIs).
  10. KPIs require the collection of actual visitor numbers to the new attraction or experience and their source markets for a 12-month period from when the project is open to guests. The final report is therefore generally submitted more than 12 months after the project is open to the public to provide enough time to collect the KPI results.
  11. Successful applicants will need to create or update a GetConnected (ATDW) listing once their new project is open to the public. More information on GetConnected is available on the Destination NSW website.
  12. Partners cannot enter into ‘third party’ agreements using the program funding.

Funding Agreement

Successful applicants will be required to enter into a legally binding Funding Agreement with Destination NSW. This agreement will set out:

  • The rights and obligations of Destination NSW and the applicant
  • The agreed work plan, timetable for completion, and the project budget
  • Where relevant, may include a precondition e.g. any Council DA conditions, independent certification of their risk mitigation and/or community consultations where a project may affect the local community.
  • Staged payments that will be made following the successful completion of agreed milestones
  • Key Performance Indicators
  • How funds are to be acquitted
  • Reporting and accountability obligations
  • Requirements for recognising NSW State Government / Destination NSW support.

Funding cannot be used for:

The following activities are not eligible to receive funding through the Experience Development Fund:

  • Construct, maintain or upgrade public transport infrastructure such as roads, airports, railways and ferry terminals.
  • Undertake activities that would reasonably be seen as regular repairs and maintenance.
  • Upgrade or develop meeting and/or local community facilities—including picnic or playground areas, local parks, barbeques, meeting facilities and regional and town entry features.
  • Pre-project activities including but not limited to feasibility studies, stakeholder workshops, industry consultations, architectural/drafting and DA costs (including those associated with meeting Council Consent Conditions which may not be incurred until after the project commences e.g. construction certificates, stormwater management plans, etc.)
  • Buying non-fixed equipment such as furniture or fittings, vehicles, boats, tents, mobile homes, computers, machinery or other removable, transportable or transferable equipment.
  • The purchase and installation costs associated with canvas or other potentially mobile or transferable structures including, but not limited to demountable, transportable and mobile homes or cabins [5].
  • Purchase of a prize to be used in a competition or trade promotion.
  • Buy or lease real estate of any type.
  • Engage or pay permanent employees.
  • Engage or pay any employees or contracted staff.
  • Pay for work undertaken on the project before the Funding Agreement with the NSW Government is executed.
  • Provide allowances for project ‘contingencies’ in the budget.
  • Raise capital funds, provide fund investment, or fund/undertake venture capital activities.
  • Duplicate or overlap any other NSW Government grant program funding.
  • Attend intra-state, inter-state or overseas based trade events, trade shows, wholesale programs, sales calls, conferences, seminars, travel agent training, forums or fees related to any of these items.
  • Cover any other activities that are not directly related to the project.
  • The marketing, sponsorship, performer/artist fees, infrastructure costs or general administration costs relating to an event [6].
  • New, or upgrading of, road or property signage.
  • Start up a business or undertake activities specifically associated with starting up a business—such as business registration, business licences or incorporation costs.
  • Upgrade or develop non accredited visitor information centres or facilities.
  • Cover administrative and running costs that are normally the Partner’s responsibility—for example, insurance, rent, standard office equipment, telephone costs, travel, accommodation, meals, secretarial support, non-fulfilment postage and other consumables.
  • Retainer or contract fees for marketing, PR and advertising services (e.g. advertising agency, workshop delivery, web hosting services, etc.).
  • Maintenance costs for primary consumer and corporate websites and other digital assets.

[5] Exception

Where Destination NSW, at its absolute discretion determines that engineering or construction requirements for the project imply long-term project permanence, costs of the associated built infrastructure such as platforms, foundations, plumbing, black water management, fixed picnic tables, barbeques and safety lighting, landscaping, water features (not swimming pools), parking area, amenity blocks, etc., may be eligible.

[6] Destination NSW provides other support to events. Further information is available on our Events page.

Where to find more information

Further information on the Tourism Product Development Fund can be found on the Destination NSW website.

For assistance in developing your project and application please contact your Destination Network and/or your Destination NSW Regional Tourism Development Manager.

Destination Networks Map

Additional information on the following topics is available:


Information provided by Destination NSW is provided as a guide only. Feedback is supplied based on the information provided to Destination NSW. Destination NSW does not make any representation or warranty about the accuracy, suitability, reliability, currency or completeness of any feedback provided. Destination NSW provides no guarantee of any particular outcome for your business if you choose to rely on the feedback and no guarantee that your project will be successful following feedback from Destination NSW.

Nobody knows your business better than you. It is yours and your management’s responsibility to decide, based on your full knowledge and understanding of your business situation, how relevant the information is to your business. Destination NSW recommends you consider seeking independent sources of professional advice, legal, financial or otherwise before making any decision. The State of New South Wales through Destination NSW is not liable for any loss resulting from any action taken or reliance made by you on any feedback and information provided.

Please note funding is not guaranteed unless you have progressed through the expression of interest stage and have been invited to submit a full funding application, you receive a Letter of Intent, your project plan is approved and you sign a Funding Agreement with Destination NSW and the Agreement is fully executed.  Destination NSW is not responsible for any costs.

Related pages

Tourism Product Development Fund

Handy Hints for completing your Experience Development Fund application