After what was planned to be a stellar winter snow season with an influx of tourists to the Snowy Monaro region, the mountains community has moved from dealing with a lack of accommodation to being called upon to support local businesses.
The region’s key businesses rely heavily on the influx of travellers and tourists, and the latest wave of COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns across Australia have had a severe economic impact.
Snowy Monaro Regional Council Mayor Peter Beer said the normally large and growing tourist numbers are the reason the area is so well serviced by a range of businesses, but now they need support.
“After successive years of natural disasters and the enormous effects of a second year of this pandemic, the Snowy Monaro business community needs the community [at large] to step up and show their support,” he said.
Council has co-signed a letter to the NSW Government along with other members of the Local Government NSW organisation calling for the provision of urgent additional support for businesses.
While this COVID-19 lockdown is so far only short in duration, council estimates its impact will be felt for much longer.
In the immediate aftermath of the lockdown announcement, early data showed some accommodation providers in Jindabyne had seen a drop in occupancy rate from 100 per cent to 30 per cent almost overnight.
In preparation for the expected bumper season, a four-month trial of a 75-site temporary van park/campground at the Jindabyne Equestrian Resort in the Snowy Monaro was approved midway through June 2021 at a regular council meeting.
It was hoped the trial could provide some relief for workers camping informally in their cars and vans.
Speaking in support of the motion to approve the application, councillors noted the trial period of four months would allow businesses, workers, residents and council to assess whether caravan parks such as the one approved are a suitable solution to the winter accommodation shortages in the region.
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Residents in the immediate vicinity had raised concerns about the effect this new accommodation may have on local roads, water, property values and amenities.
It was for these reasons the original application, which included a provision to expand the facility to include another 400 sites, was not approved.
Any local businesses struggling in light of the current lockdown are encouraged to seek support through the NSW Government’s recently announced availability of grants, tax deferrals and extended economic stimulus initiatives.
Council can offer further advice and assistance to businesses and individuals, and has a hardship program for anyone experiencing difficulty paying their water, rates or other council bills.