News

Economies kickstart as restrictions ease

By Daniel Hughes

The Southern Riverina economy could bounce back well if it can attract regional visitors from next month.

Camping, recreational travel and holidays will be allowed from June 1 in NSW, and pubs, clubs and restaurants will be able to seat up to 50 patrons at a time depending on their size.

Interstate travel is still restricted, but the Victorian border remains open and it is unknown when international travel will be reinstated.

Therefore more Victorians could visit the Southern Riverina because they cannot travel overseas.

While local tourism providers say most of their winter revenue comes from those heading to a warmer climate, there is an opportunity to tap in to a new market of travellers who have had to change their plans.

Berrigan Shire Mayor Matt Hannan said with the Queensland borders still closed and camping not yet allowed in Victoria, the Southern Riverina could be the perfect spot for those looking for a break after being isolated so long.

‘‘We have beautiful beaches, and camping is one of the activities people can partake in again from June 1.

‘‘We’re always open for business and would welcome anyone looking for a break.

‘‘And that all helps to drive the economy.’’

Finley Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture president Gary Carr said this is the perfect time to invite friends and family who can travel to the Southern Riverina to experience what it has to offer.

‘‘Some of our normal winter attractions are still restricted, likes our markets and some events, but we do have fresh country air and space to move,’’ he said.

‘‘There’s an abundance of outdoor activities people can enjoy, and a variety of local businesses.

‘‘The easing of travel restrictions coincides with more people being allowed to visit pubs, clubs and restaurant, which really works well.’’

Murrumbidgee Council economic development and tourism manager Kellie Dissegna is confident the easing of restrictions, paired with the recent irrigation water allocation, will start to see the economy ramping up again.

‘‘This financial year we have had a bit of a double whammy with drought and the Coronavirus pandemic that closed a lot of our shops,” she said.

‘‘Our economy is heavily driven by the agriculture trade in Jerilderie. For the last two years it has been severely affected with drought conditions.

‘‘Now that we have had a water allocation and a lot of rain, as well as easing of restrictions, our economy should start to recover.

‘‘Our bakery, pubs and clubs are looking forward to travellers and locals coming in once more.

‘‘We welcome anyone stopping through town, whether they enjoy the park, bakery or an overnight stay. We want them to be safe, and to enjoy our town.’’

From Monday, Jerilderie Motel & Caravan Park will be one of the local businesses opening.

Co-owners Mark and Ally Fitzpatrick say they are excited to welcome travellers in to the park for the first time in 10 weeks.

‘‘We will be open for businesses, so travellers are welcome to call and book,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.

“I’ve got a gut feeling our main travellers, Victorian grey nomads who travel to Queensland for warmer weather, will wait a little bit once borders are open.

‘‘I suspect others may wait to see if there is no spike in (Coronavirus) cases before travelling.

‘‘There will be a few travellers who want to move around, but most of our business will come as it warms up again.’’

Under its new COVID-19 Safe Plan, which is a requirement for all businesses allowed to reopen from next week, the park’s amenities blocks will remain restricted until further notice.

‘‘While we haven't opened all our facilities, we are hoping to open as soon as it’s safe.

‘‘Most of the caravans that pass through here have their own lavatories to get around that, and we have a dump site here so they can clear their waste before moving on.’’

While recreation and holiday travel will be allowable from next week, travellers are required to have pre-booked accommodation and plans before setting off on the road.

People must also follow physical distancing, good hygiene practice and understand public health advice is still in place.

Anyone wishing to access a NSW National Park NSW is encouraged to visit nationalparks.nsw.gov.au to learn more.