Welcome to this week's Editors Choice We have been having glorious weather on the South Coast however the chill of winter is beginning to descend. With winter comes the quiet time for the coast. Everyone either hibernates or locals pack their cars and drive north or fly away to somewhere warmer chasing the sun. With one of the highest ratios of retirees in the country, that all sounds nice. We also have one of the highest rates of unemployment and underemployment and a winter downturn in tourism usually means a winter downturn in income. This week the local press reports "property Booming in the Shire" with Batemans Bay and Tuross Head making Australia's top ten. Again this seems like great news, however it is reported on the same day that affordable accommodation in Eurobodalla is now beyond the reach of most low income (young and old) or single income families. With over 2000 investment holiday houses available in Eurobodalla via Stayz and AirBnB most lie dormant in winter and remain only fractionally viable in summer, covering overheads, whilst waiting for the boom to hit to realise a capital gain. Up and down the Shire local Chambers of Commerce and organisations have seen these seasonal trends year after year and rather than just watching local businesses suffer they have stepped up with solutions. Festivals. In March we saw the annual Tuross Flathead and Bream competition that bought 250 fishers and their families to Tuross for a long weekend. That event bought bums on seats to cafes, visitors to our local towns and sights and sleepers in beds that supported holiday rental owners, hospitality workers and cleaners and injected over $100,000 into the community. Over Easter the Tilba Festival saw a 15% increase in numbers which is a major and much needed injection into the local community of store owners, stall holders, growers and crafts people who all play their vital role of supporting the community throughout the year. Last weekend we also saw the very successful running of the annual Batemans Bay Triathlon. More visitors to the area, more bums on seats and more folks in otherwise empty beds. Next weekend we see the Narooma Business Chamber hosting their Narooma Oyster Festival, Batemans Bay Chamber hosting their Bridge to Bridge kayak classic and later in the month we have the River of Art supported by the Moruya Chamber, the Narooma Busking Championships hosted by Rotary, the staging of Huntfest in Narooma and then the very successful annual Moruya Granite Town Festival that evolved from the long standing Moruya Jazz Festival. All of these festivals and events bring much needed income and employment however we need more than that. We need consistent employment in non-tourism focused occupations that offers seasonal peaks and troughs and uncertainty. Our local trades folk spend most of their time working in Canberra or away as there is little if any development here. Council might celebrate an upturn in Development Applications, however when you look at them they are mostly renovations by nest-eggers. The local youth attend school and then generally leave the shire for higher education and employment leaving a vast emptiness in the census figures of 25 to 45 year olds. Local organisations can only do what they can to improve the net income of the Shire in the off-season downtime. What is missing is the role that Council, the State and Federal government can and should play in their planning that should be focused more on critical essentials rather than short term tokenism and brownie points. News of the Batemans Bay bridge improvements improving South Coast transport is timely as is the recent footage of the Batemans Bay bypass works. If you see an event, a performance, a concert, a film or a local festival on please support it as they all support our community. Until next week Lei
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