7 January 2021

Bega Mayor rolls out the welcome mat for Canberrans

| Kim Treasure
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Tathra Beach

Tathra Beach usually looks like this in January. Things are much quieter this year. Photo: Sapphire Coast Tourism.

Bega Valley Shire Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick has rolled out the welcome mat for Canberrans, inviting them to visit the Sapphire Coast this summer and enjoy some unexpected elbow-room.

For the second summer in a row, the Sapphire Coast has seen a rapid, mass exodus of tourists over its busiest period. Last summer it was the devastating bushfires; this time around, tens of thousands of Victorians – around 80 per cent of the Bega Valley shire’s visitors – were forced to flee south or face being locked out of their home state.

Big 4 Tathra owner Greg McKay said it was a heartbreaking start to the year and a huge financial hit.

“Eighty per cent of the park upped and rushed home on New Year’s Eve,” Mr McKay said.

“The next day had an eerily similar feel to last year when bushfires ended our season before it even started. Looking around now, I just can’t believe this place is not buzzing as usual.”

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Showing the resilience that has kept the industry afloat through COVID-19 and the bushfires, the region’s tourism industry has pivoted, turning its attention to marketing into the ACT and broader regional NSW.

The Sapphire Coast’s tourism operators are encouraging visitors from these areas to take advantage of this rare opportunity to experience life as a laid-back local, in turn helping a community get through two years of unprecedented hardship.

“There may never be another time when you can enjoy a quintessential Sapphire Coast summer, just like a local but minus the crowds,” Mayor Fitzpatrick said.

Bermagui's Blue Pool

Bermagui’s famous Blue Pool. Photo: David Rogers Photography.

“Beautiful weather, pristine water, deserted beaches, an abundance of oysters, plenty of parking, amazing accommodation and locals who are thrilled to see you – the list of reasons to visit goes on and on.

“Put simply, our beautiful, untouched paradise hasn’t gone anywhere even though the crowds have.”

With no crowds, no queues, and long white beaches almost all to yourself, Cr Fitzpatrick says visitors will quickly appreciate why the locals wouldn’t live anywhere else.

“Whether it’s for two days or two weeks, there’s never been a better time for our regional NSW, ACT and Victorian border friends to visit the magnificent Sapphire Coast and discover their very own silver lining.”

For South Coast holiday ideas, go to Visit NSW.

Original Article published by Kim Treasure on The RiotACT.

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