21 May 2020

Business chamber welcomes easing of restrictions to tourism in NSW

| Sharon Kelley
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Member for Gilmore Fiona Phillips with local business owners in Batemans Bay fishing shop.

Member for Gilmore Fiona Phillips with Senator Murray Watt and Rob McFadyen Rob’s Bait and Tackle in Batemans Bay, who are welcoming tourists back to the South Coast as NSW travel restrictions are lifted. Photo: Supplied.

Businesses on the NSW South Coast will welcome back tourists from 1 June 2020 after the NSW Government lifted restrictions on travel.

Member for Gilmore Fiona Phillips said both tourists and locals need to continue exercising caution to avoid a rise in local COVID-19 infections.

“Our community is still so vulnerable after the bushfires and what we don’t want to see is a spike in infections,” said Ms Phillips. “So I encourage everyone to stay safe, wash your hands regularly and keep observing the social distancing guidelines at all times.”

Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese yesterday said he welcomed the reopening of NSW for domestic tourism, and emphasised how critical it is to get the economy going, but called on the federal government to commit additional funding to bushfire-affected areas.

“It’s absolutely critical we get the economy going,” he said. “But it is also critical we act on their health advice.

“The government announced a tourism support package for bushfire-affected areas [but] when coronavirus came along, they took some of that money and reallocated it to interstate. I’ve got no problem with funding interstate, but it should be additional funding, not money that was taken from bushfire-affected communities.”

The Batemans Bay Business and Tourism Chamber welcomes the move, but said they think the government has already been generous in their support of the community.

“The Business Australia team were down here supporting the bushfire recovery,” said Batemans Bay Business and Tourism Chamber president Alison Miers. “They’ve been fantastic. Ernst & Young [EY] have employed a full-time business advisor to support businesses on the ground with filling in grant applications and funding requests. They’re really supporting small businesses.

“At least people know they can make a trip away if they wish. It will start to build as long as we don’t get any outbreaks. But I don’t think we can hold on for much longer to open.

“Businesses need to start opening up and getting back to normality. I think it won’t be an explosion of business [when restrictions are eased on 1 June]. I think if the initial wave of tourism goes well, people will gain the confidence that we’re ready.”

Ms Miers said restrictions on hospitality venues of just 10 people at any given time were making the reopening of the tourism industry more difficult.

Ms Phillips acknowledged this year has been a challenge for small business.

“Our tourism operators, small businesses, farmers and families are all still struggling with the challenges this year has brought, and I will keep fighting to make sure local people get the help they deserve,” she said.

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