'Don't forget the bushfire impact' says tourism chief

The chair of Destination Southern NSW (DSNSW) Richard Beere has called on politicians not to forget the bushfire affected businesses and the struggles they continue to have even as the coronavirus crisis continues.

"These people are still fighting one battle while another one is on," Mr Beere said of the many tourism related businesses in the wide area covered by DSNSW which stretches from Yass down to the Victorian border and across to Canberra and the Snowy Mountains.

He said the visitor economy was taking multiple hits already this year.

"COVID-19 has become a national priority, and rightly so, however governments must maintain the intent, programs, and funds that were announced for bushfire recovery. Furthermore they need to make adjustments to the execution of those programs to ensure activities meet the requirements of small business," Mr Beere said.

He said that while there were a lot of programs being rolled out it was important not to forget the budgets, plans and programs that had been put in place previously for the bushfire affected businesses.

DSNSW has prepared a Bushfire Response Action Paperwhich includes items which Mr Beere believes should be for immediate attention, and others for consideration "when we begin to rebuild".

He said the most critical regions were those along the South Coast where peak season trade was disrupted, tourist leave zones were enforced and ongoing campaign fires created uncertainty and confusion for fire impacted and fire affected towns and villages.

Mr Beere wants to see not advertising but "recovery messages" from the bushfire affected areas even as the COVID-19 crisis continues.

"It is still an opportunity to promote. There was an amount of money made available for bushfire affected areas and I think that should still go on. It's not advertising and it's certainly not saying come and visit but it would be messages about real people, recovery messages; it's important to get that message out. It is critical we all maintain the focus as the challenge continues," Mr Beere said.

DSNSW believes that fire impacted areas need to be given prominence in advertisements and websites of Tourism Australia that utilise the National Bushfire Recovery funding. The organisation also wants to see funding to combat the coronavirus be additional to that provided for bushfire recovery.

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