In February 2020, a Visitor Economy Bushfire Recovery Summit, was held on the South Coast of NSW, in the wake of a prolonged and devastating bushfire period. The event was hosted by Destination Southern NSW (DSNSW) and Destination Sydney Surrounds South (DSSS), with a focus on sharing strategies to support communities through a locally-led recovery process. The event also provided a platform for attendees to communicate the needs of business owners.
I had the honour of attending the summit, to capture key messages. From the content gathered, my team and I produced a series of podcast episodes that, highlight actions business owners can take to stay informed, find support and rebuild.
To begin, I chat with Sean Haylan, the General Manager of DSNSW. Sean explains the role of Destination Networks during crisis periods, and why a locally-led recovery processes is key in rebuilding communities. We discuss the readiness of local areas to welcome visitors, and the importance of visitor spend in the reactivation of the local economies. Sean and I also chat about different levels of assistance available, in particular, the importance of access to reliable mental health support.
Next up, I chat with Steve Rosa, the Group Manager for Tourism & Economic Development at Destination Southern Highlands. Two major fire fronts hit Steve’s local government, which severely impacted the region. Steve shares some great local initiatives that have been instrumental in the region’s recovery to date. He explains how working together has inspired businesses owners to take charge and put the Southern Highlands back on the tourist map.
Reactivating Local Economies
Steve shares how the Wingecarribee Shire Council, recognises the local Tourism and Hospitality Industry as a major economic driver. With this in mind, the council has invested in several promotional campaigns. They also encourage locals to become proud ambassadors of the region. The newly created Bushfire Recovery ‘Share the Love’ Campaign is an extension of Destination Southern Highland’s award-winning ‘My Southern Highlands’ branding. A major focus behind the campaign is to encourage an immediate injection of cash into the local economy. By doing so, Steve and his team hope to assist business owners get through the initial, critical stage of recovery.
Building Better Futures
Inspiration is offered through a story Steve shares, of a business called Mrs Old Bucks Pantry. The team have come up with innovative ideas to attract people to the region. Their proactive approach inspired other industry partners to get involved. The end result is a community led campaign, letting visitors know the village of Berrima is open for business. Steve commends the participants for their proactive approach, applauding community members for working together to build a better future.
Links to resources and additional information
RENSW – A central platform that hosts a range of bushfire recovery resources distributed by local, state and national organisations. The information collated on this website is available to assist in locally-led recovery processes. Visit the website for information and resources on available support, promotional campaigns and more.