Tourist pair feared lost off NSW beach

A small-scale search for two missing tourists will continue with sweeps of the New South Wales coast around Port Macquarie four days after their personal items were found on a beach.

Hugo Palmer, 20, and Erwan Ferrieux, 21, haven't been seen since passers-by discovered their belongings at Shelly Beach on Monday morning.

Their rental car was found in a nearby car park with a number of other belongings - including travel documents - still inside.

One local claims to have seen towels and gear belonging to Mr Palmer and Mr Ferrieux on the sand late on Sunday afternoon, raising questions about when the pair arrived at the beach.

A ground and water search involving police divers, Marine Rescue, SES and others resumed on Wednesday morning but was scaled back in the afternoon.

Thursday's search is likely to be limited to a few routine sweeps of the coast and foreshore.

Authorities now have little hope of finding the men alive.

On Wednesday, Police Inspector Peter Neville said a family member of one of the men had arrived in Australia and was being "realistic" about the chances of finding the pair alive.

Two female friends of Mr Palmer and Mr Ferrieux had planned to travel from Sydney to meet the two men.

Instead, they arrived in Port Macquarie on Wednesday to watch as the search continued.

Mr Palmer, an Englishman, and Mr Ferrieux, a Frenchman, have been close friends for years, according to their Facebook pages.

They both appear to have attended Sackville School, south of London.

NSW Police have been communicating with both the British and French consulates.

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