Mixed emotions for regional NSW as it prepares to reopen to tourists

“We’ve pretty much lost 100 per cent of business trade, so it has been tough,” he told SBS News. 

Coffs Creek on the land of the Gumbaynggirr people.

Source: Lucy Murray

Despite the drop in revenue, Mr Webb said he’s unsure about getting back on the water. He is worried about his community, should COVID-19 come in with visitors. 

“It’s a difficult one here for us, because we have done a really good job to keep COVID away from this region,” he said. 

“While we’re keen to get back into running our tours, we’re also got a little bit of apprehension and nervousness that COVID probably will come to the area.”

The beaches of Coffs Harbour are quiet without tourists.

Source: Lucy Murray

For Coffs Harbour, like much of Australia, reopening is a tough balance. 

Keeping the tourists out has helped it escape the worst of COVID-19, but without their trade, the business community is hurting. 

“The businesses are screaming out, we need the tourists here, we need the visitors,” said Coffs Harbour City Mayor Denise Knight. 

“They’re on their knees, literally on their knees.”

Coffs Harbour Mayor Denise Knight was part of a group of 13 north coast mayors who advocated for the reopening of regional travel to be pushed back.

Source: Lucy Murray

But only weeks ago, Ms Knight was advocating for the reopening date to be pushed back to give the community more time to get vaccinated. 

The double dose rate at Coffs Harbour lags about 10 per cent behind the state average. 

“We want you to come, you have given us the two weeks [extra], now it is up to us to come forward and get vaccinated,” Ms Knight said. 

About 76 per cent of the eligible population in Coffs Harbour is double vaccinated.

Source: Lucy Murray

To help boost inoculations, the ex-services club is running a vaccination hub above the bistro. 

The chief executive of C.ex Group – formerly known as Coffs Ex-Services Memorial and Sporting Club – John Rafferty said he offered the space because he hopes more jabs will help the city stay open. 

“If we can get Coffs Harbour double vaccinated, the safer it is for when Sydney people get out,” he said.

“That is part of the reason why we’re not worried about Sydney people coming to Coffs Harbour, because we know people were given the opportunity to get the doses.”

C.ex Club CEO John Rafferty pours a beer at the bistro.

Source: Lucy Murray

The C.ex Group’s three venues at Coffs Harbour, Woolgoolga and Urunga lost about 35 per cent of food and beverage turnover when Sydney went into lockdown and state borders closed. 

“A lot of people who are travelling, or business people, they are out every night of the week when they are in the town. Locals only tend to come out, Thursday, Friday, Saturday night. So we’ve seen a real decline in food earlier in the week,” he said. 

Read More

With 1 November being the day vaccinated Australians and their families can return from overseas without quarantine, Ms Knight is not sure the region is ready as it is yet to test the water with domestic travellers. 

“Please don’t come to the regions for a little while, give us a little more time,” she said. 

File source

Show More
Back to top button