We all have our favourite restaurants, our favourite destinations and our favourite hotels. Many who travel also start to list their favourite health spa, their favourite beach and even their favourite swimming pools. A recent article by Stephanie Zheng in Yahoo's Travel Inspirations did just that lists, in the authors opinion, the top eight in the world including the Bondi Icebergs Baths, the Marina Bay Sands Infinity Pool in Singapore and, at number 6 in the world, the Bermagui Blue Pool.
Photo by South Coast Holiday Parks Bermagui
The upside of such a poll is the enormous international exposure such an article gives the region. The Bega Shire and the Sapphire Coast Tourism folks have been witnessing a groundswell of visitor interest attracted to the area by many of the new initiatives that have settled themselves into the framework of the area such as the Four Winds, the newly opened Coastal Walk, the refurbishment of Merimbula and icons such as the Tathra Hotel. Visitation is also steadily increasing via cruise ships arriving in Eden along and upgrades to to the Princes Highway between Melbourne to South East reducing travelling time. Refurbishments to Merimbula airport and airlinks with Sydney and Melbourne have also bought increasing passenger numbers. There is a vitality in the Bega Shire bought on by steady influxes of Federal and State funding for wharves, roads, dredging, marinas, hospitals and extended health services. The area is attracting developers and as a consequence there has been a down turn in the regions unemployment and an upsurge in property values and demand (in the 2017 March quarter, the unemployment rate in Eurobodalla Shire was 7.97% and Bega 6.05%). There is also a renewed prosperity in the rural sector as new national and international markets are found for the quality local produce of the region. This didn't just happen. There has been some hard slog, a lot of vision, much lobbying and little time to rest on laurels or take accolades. Both Mike Kelly MP for Eden Monaro (Labor) and Andrew Constance NSW MP for Bega (Liberal) have equally been tireless in their representation of the area and have been encouraged by the proactive approach of the Bega Shire Council to have shovel ready projects at hand for available grant funding. With Eurobodalla Mayor Liz Innes as Chair of the Tourism Advisory Committee and the recent move to have the head of Eurobodalla planning, Lindsay Usher, take the leadership of Eurobodalla Tourism it will be interesting to see what the revised Destination Management Plan has in store. While on statistics ... another interesting comparison between Bega and Eurobodalla is their median ages. Eurobodalla's median age at the last census was 52.2 (Australian average 37.4) whereas the median age of the Bega area ranges from a low of 42 years in Bega District to a high of 55 years in Tura Beach which is, in part due to the fact that they are able to retain their youth in gainful employment availed by a diversity of industry rather than simply relying on the seasonality of tourism. (figures sourced from ABS)