Kick start to tourism

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke and Mayor Neville Kschenka celebrate with staff of the Narrandera Visitor Information Centre at the announcement of the $8 million in funding for Playground on the Murrumbidgee in 2019. With the VIC now closed, staff have been redeployed to oversee the waste depot in the interim. Photo: Kim Woods.

With the shire’s $30 million tourism industry decimated, Narrandera Tourism is working towards a joint brochure with surrounding councils, Leeton, Murrumbidgee and Lockhart.

Narrandera Shire believes the brochure will be of great value to the region once tourism operators are able to resume, and help kick start visitor spend.

“Although the tourism industry is facing immense strain, the collective Council tourism teams are working on this brochure as a means to support and help build up tourism once we are ready for visitors to return,” a council spokesperson said. “Advertising options will soon be circulated, with possible payment options available as we do not want anyone to miss out in this unique opportunity.”

This comes on the back of the closure of Council’s visitor information centre with staff being redeployed to oversee the waste depot.

“In these unique times Council is working with daily updates and information to make decisions that impact the community and appreciate the community’s assistance and understanding as we negotiate these matters,” the council spokesperson said.

Council’s economic development team is providing initial support to the business community through the electronic distribution of business advice webinars, courses and general advice on how to maintain business functions during the pandemic lockdown.

Advice from relevant organisations such as Business NSW, Economic Development Australia, RDA Riverina, Regional Australia Institute, Ausindustry and Department of Premier and Cabinet is also being distributed to the Narrandera business database.

“A short-term business recovery plan is being formulated in conjunction with the economic development strategy until such time as normality resumes, then a forward strategy will be developed,” the spokesperson said.

Narrandera Shire is also considering extending the ratepayers financial hardship policy to all ratepayers to allow a deferral of rates during the closedown period.

Council has reverted to using the digital platform, Zoom, to engage with the public during the lockdown.

Community members wishing to schedule a Zoom meeting with the Mayor or general manager need to have the Zoom App set on their own device and contact the council to arrange a time.

Meanwhile, Community Building Partnership Grants funding has boosted Narrandera School Boys Rugby League Club to the tune of $14,000 for grandstand seating.

The Leeton-Narrandera Australian Air League Squadron has received $7971 for air conditioning and carpet in their training hall at the airport.

Regionally, the Beckom Hall received $10,000 for a kitchen upgrade, $10,000 to the Leeton Shire for the upgrade of the Henry Lawson Cottage and the Ungarie CWA Hall $20,000 for renovation of their hall.

The state’s peak business organisation, Business NSW acknowledged the important role local councils play in ensuring businesses don’t disappear from regional and suburban communities as the coronavirus pandemic takes its toll.

“While the Federal and State Governments have been quick to act and generous with their support  packages, the role of local councils across NSW in supporting the ongoing viability of local businesses cannot be underestimated,” Business NSW Regional Manager Andrew Cottrill said.

Mr Cottrill said some Riverina councils have introduced reduced business fees and rental abatements, and waived outdoor eating and event cancellation fees.

“Now is the time local councils must commence planning for the post lockdown recovery. There will be a real need for economic activity to ramp up and early commencement of major council projects will have an important role to play,” he said. “Business NSW is calling on all local government organisations to where possible ‘bring forward’ funded project work from their four-year delivery programs.

“Local councils that embrace and support a vibrant business community now, will benefit most when things return to normal. Business owners will want to re-open and re-invest in a Local Government Area that is supportive of enterprise.”

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